“When I became a man I put away childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.” – C.S. Lewis
After my childhood, then teenage years, my musings and passion for creative writing “grew up,” succumbing to the norms that college and graduate school required. My journals, having unceremoniously insisted that they be my comfort and companion through every experience, were buried under my “adult” responsibilities.
I meant to write and I was inspired to. Nevertheless, I rarely did. My muses stood by, impatiently, in the unemployment line, eagerly waiting for the next job. Mostly, they waited for me to find the “right” time to pit pen to paper. Granted, words would often materialize, unexpectedly, as if apparitions out of thin air. Joyous and full of energy, they eagerly sprung into step, as if dancing around a maypole, circling me in celebration of me joining them. But, there were many times that I consciously ignored them. At least they trusted that I would return to play with them. I did, albeit twelve years later.
As we “grow up” the playful and creative activities we once loved are often the first to be tossed overboard if the ship goes down. Yet, is in the act of playing that you can find what your spirit hungers for. The most playful, creative, inspiring and “childish” activities can offer a life preserver, to carry us from all of those “have to’s.” They ask that we remember what it feels like to have fun and color outside the lines of expectation and judgment.
Writing is good for me; it feeds me. At the same time, perhaps like you, there are so many other things to juggle. This phone call. That person. That deadline. This meeting. You name it; there is always “something” that has to be done. Nevertheless, we should also allow ourselves to do what is playful and nurturing; we need it to find balance in our lives. At the same time, some activities are just good for us, period. Kind of like broccoli, you know? You don’t ask “why,” you just know it is.
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw
Play doesn’t need you to find a reason for doing it and actually prefers that you don’t. Play doesn’t want you to “schedule” it in your planner. Play just asks that you open yourself to spontaneous experiences, change your patterns, and seek it out. Allow into your life those experiences that dare you to “get out of your head,” to get back in touch with your body, creativity, and spirit. In other words, shift out of your left brain, and allow your right brain to have some good clean fun.
When I talk with my adult clients about allowing play into their lives, they often reply that they can’t do it. This is often the case, because many never learned how, or felt safe enough to play. Perhaps you understand their struggle. Maybe you had to become “a little adult” in your childhood years. If that is the case, please know that play is just as important now, as it was back then. Perhaps you can just try one of these suggestions. Hey, go for broke; try them all!
Here are some of the “playful” suggestions that I offer clients.
•Play Twister with a friend, or loved one.
•Create a collage, painting, or drawing. Stop judging it, please.
•On your way to work, look for a park. Go swing. Yes, before you clock in.
•Read your favorite bedtime story before you go to bed.
•Buy a coloring book. Color in the boldest, most daring colors you can find. Dare to draw outside the lines.
•If you have a child, or children in your life, ask them what how you should play.
•Get a deck of cards. Build the tallest card castle. Break it down, then build it again.
•Think of any nurturing activity that you love doing, and haven’t. Do it, just for today. Try it again.
Personally, my lesson about play was that creative writing needs me as much as I need it; it is my nourishing form of play, one that I had cast aside for too long. Maybe your form of play is waiting for you. Granted, my gut quivered in anticipation when I started to write again, as if a spirited racehorse readying for the gun to fire, anxious to defy the gates that contained it. Nevertheless, when I allowed my imagination to run free, I could no longer write just when I “had to.” I remembered that I could write just because I wanted to play, period. That was, and is, reason enough.
© Copyright 2008 by Sarah Jenkins. All Rights Reserved. Permission to publish granted to GoodTherapy.org.
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