“You are worried about seeing him spend his early years in doing nothing. What! Is it nothing to be happy? Nothing to skip, play, and run around all day long? Never in his life will he be so busy again.” ~ Jean-Jacques Rousseau, Emile, 1762
Having had a chance to spend the entire day with my children yesterday, I can assure you that I have never been busier! We jumped, ran, laughed, skipped, swam, ate, played, talked, joked, dug, built, demolished, shopped, walked, climbed and marveled at everything that passed our screen. To some such frivolities would amount to “doing nothing all day” but I can assure you that the three of us grew as a result of time well spent. (That said I did have four conference calls and answered 37 emails when they were sufficiently occupied).
I don’t know about you, but the busier my professional life is the harder it is to incorporate play on a regular basis. Rarely does it work out without prior planning and if I do not deliberately make the space for play in my day, it won’t happen. Play is the flint upon which the spark of life ignites. Play offers so many advantages. It encourages imagination, flexibility, vitality, sharing, rhythmic pulsations of activity and rest, socializing, curiosity and that’s just the short list that comes immediately to mind!
The older I become the more I realize how important it is to maintain a youthful spirit within an aging mind and body. As my sons and I walked through the outdoor shopping mall today I noticed that there were two types of seniors: those who had a spark of life in them and those whose spark had extinguished.
Those who maintained that spark took note of the boys, sent them a wink or a wave or even asked me about them. They were lighter in their step, brighter in the eye, generally more colorful and most importantly, radiant rather than absorptive. I recall one definition of the noun “boy” that perfectly described the creature: “Boy, n.: a noise with dirt on it.” Those with life still in them were not offended by the noise or the dirt!
A life well-lived includes play and defies the entropic march toward rigidity in body, mind and heart that wears down the large majority of people far too early in life. Life must be given, expressed and exercised on a regular basis if the flow from the inside out is to remain in tact. Stop giving and expressing life and the wellspring of life will appear to go dry in your experience. Start giving and expressing life again and the wellspring gives freely of itself, proving that the well did not go dry, rather, the prime was lost from disuse.
Take time this weekend to play sporadically through the day – even if you are hard at work – and be sure to let the life that is waiting to be expressed has a means of so doing.
Have a great weekend!