play·ful adjective \ˈplā-fəl\
: happy and full of energy : eager to play
— play·ful·ly adverb
— play·ful·ness noun
This year I am reclaiming playfulness as part of who I am. Somehow in the last 25 years of growing up, raising kids, and dealing with life’s joys as well as life’s blows I have become a serious person. I take responsibility. I get things done. I am reflective and some would say I have a wisdom about life that is an inspiration. I don’t think those same people would say I am playful. And you know what…I am realizing that true wisdom does not come with seriousness alone—it needs playfulness.
I look at truly wise people—Nelson Mandala, Pope Francis. In their faces are a glow and in their eyes are a twinkle, a twinkle that comes from playfulness. Nelson Mandala’s dancing or Pope Francis’s inviting children on the alter and seeing them play with him—all ways that playfulness cracks in to balance a wisdom of serious to true wisdom. I want that.
I have not always been quite so serious. I remember as a child frolicking in the rain with friends, chasing fireflies at night, building snowmen and snow forts, playing kick-the-can in the street at nightfall as neighbors sat on their porch watching us, getting lost in hours of fun and swimming at the local pool, playing with books as I got lost in story. I remember as an adolescent playfully interacting with my friends, going to fairs, holding hands and playing with love. Playfulness was a part of me. And somehow it got lost on the road to responsibility and busyness.
I want to find that playful self this year. I miss her.
I have told some of my friends that I have chosen “playfulness” as my word this year. One friend knows that I am “serious” about exercise right now and challenged me to find play there saying that the elliptical and the treadmill just are not very playful. I am going to Zumba this week and am exploring other forms of fun exercise because of this insight. Today a friend suggested that we might look into belly dancing.
Among the many things I do on a professional front, I work with kindergarteners and their teachers. This year I am choosing to laugh with children every day. And with teachers. And to find ways to playfully create learning for both. (True learning happens naturally with play.) On Monday I went back to school after a two week holiday. On Sunday night I felt anxious because my time would be so much fuller and my pace would be going full speed once again. I realized that I love my work and I need to find a playful spirit there to thrive. Mindfulness about playfulness and the action toward it is what will give me balance.
So my choice this year is to explore playfulness and become light-hearted in spirit through play. I don’t know exactly what that means yet (the exploration) but the results will bring me the balance and a knew-found wisdom that I long for. So you might see me chasing fire flies, belly dancing, kicking-the- can and playing with words. All on the journey to a place of wholeness and fulfillment.
Bring on the play!