Last night I hung out with (babysat?) my three-year old friend M and my six-year-old niece C. I figured, if I'm going to spend time with one munchkin, why not two? My own kids were easier to manage when they had each other to keep occupied.
The moment they arrived the fun began. M immediately turned corn-hole into a second-chances with lax boundaries kind of basketball challenge. Then C showed up and just started running, to which M responded by chasing her as fast as his legs could carry him. They then transitioned into some sort of pirate ship charade using the garden hose as a life-preserver, and then onto to a quest to create the most awesome potion out of woodland forest supplies. And before I could blink they morphed into kitties and I was their mother.
If this makes no sense to you, it's because you're old. Old people don't know how to play. Young people are experts at it. (I'm not being ageist here—actual age has nothing to do with it).
Playing is an innate skill that engages the imagination, spurs creativity, and produces exactly nothing. Nothing, that is, except joy. The only things needed are a safe environment and a deep breath. Play is also healing. It helps the mind color a very grey world with hope and possibility.
Sadly, adulting often steals the sense of freedom one needs to see life with such a vibrant perspective. The day that first bill is due we begin to forget all the things that could be. To keep (or re-build) your play skill, you're going to have to prioritize it regularly. You will have to fight against the tide of performance and productivity, by carving out spaces and times in your life to just play. You'll need to identify what inspires you and invest in some creative ventures. This is something I often engage with on my Sabbath - the day I remember Who made me and Whom my creativity is modeled after.
What are some things you do to play? Thank you to my friends M and C for helping me play.