i didn’t realize that i forgotten how to play.
and i’m not equating “play” with “having fun” because i do have fun, lots of it :). in fact, i have fun walking through grand central each morning, dancing around like a fool at the gym every night, and learning about new things throughout the day. what i am trying to say is that i recently recognized that i have forgotten what it feels like to be a kid. and the only way i stumbled across this realization was in the process of jumping on a trampoline, diving into a foam pit, and running across central park, bare-foot in the grass armed with water balloons….because it initially felt awkward.
it might sound kind of strange, but maybe you can understand what i’m talking about. what i am referring to is the feeling of wanting to do something you used to enjoy and the eagerness to experience the same kind of excitement you previously had, but also the acknowledgement of a sense of disappointment in not quite knowing how to enjoy it in the same way you used to. take for example, the park. i would say that for the most part, kids enjoy going to the park- running around, swinging on the swings, and if they’re lucky, maybe making some mud pies. i don’t know about you, but i know that i did.
of course i still love going to the park. but i experience it differently. when i go now, i swing, but i don’t do those weird backflips off of it. and instead of running around playing tag, i more often find myself sitting and reading. i must also admit that i can’t remember the last time i made a mud pie and decorated it with grass and dandelions or covered myself in mud. i am not trying to label my new ways of experiencing the park as bad or good because in fact, all it really is is just different. what i am trying to say however, is that this isn’t how i used to play.
i think responsibility kind of gets in the way. and i think the seriousness we develop about life limits our ability to be care-free. work, school, other commitments, money, stress, the weather–anything really–are good excuses and even reasons to be “grown up.” but what about making a good reason to be a kid?
today (and the last few weekends) was meaningful because i did just that. i made up excuses to play-to truly play. i woke up this morning and helped fill up two hundred water balloons and seven water guns and carried them on to the subway and down several blocks to central park. i decided to abandon my usually worry-filled spirit about my stuff getting stolen (or ruined) and forget about all of the tasks i needed to accomplish that day. instead, i joined in with thousands of other registered strangers where we sprinted around throwing water at each other in every way imaginable. i screamed. and laughed. i didn’t check the time or worry about ruining my new shoes. the water fight was full of adults, older adults, children, teenagers, girls traveling in groups, boys dressed up as ninjas and spiderman, and people in wheelchairs. the truth is, it seemed like we all came to play.
and so we did.
it took a few nervous attempts at throwing a water balloon at a stranger’s back and a few squirts of water into my ear from fellow “water-fighters” before i finally loosened up–before i didn’t feel weird about running wild and screaming my head off. it wasn’t that i was worried about what others would think, its just that i was adjusting to participating in life in ways that i normally wouldn’t. while i’m usually having fun, i don’t necessarily get to go out and play every–nor do i make an attempt to. i’m proud to admit that its different this summer; i’m finding ways and reasons to be younger than i am.
i think playing is good for the soul. and i also think it makes your heart smile.
afterall, you’re never too old to be a kid :)
when was the last time you genuinely played?
when was the last time you did something that you haven’t done before?
why can’t it be today?