Tonight I am going out to dinner with a friend. For over five years we have had a standing date to go to dinner and then go to the local theater, for which we have season tickets. I love the plays, but my favorite part is dinner. At dinner we can catch up on all of the things that are going on in both of our lives, we can savor good wine and good food. And we can laugh. All three set me in the space of playfulness.
We all need spaces to hash out our lives. We need friends who are open to hearing all of the absurdities, challenges and joys that happen day-in and day-out. We need friends who will cry with us and laugh with us as we talk about the events that make up our lives. I have a handful of these friends (for which I feel much gratitude) and tonight I will be with one such friend. In the comfort of the restaurant we will talk about our lives. And what can feel sometimes heavy will become lighter. What is total joy will be shared with another. And through both there will be moments of understanding—both in listening and being heard, there will be moments of poignancy and there will be lots of laughter. . In the conversations that reveal the stuff of my life with someone who cares about me, I rise in both identity and lightness. I am freer to laugh about absurdities and laugh about silliness. Sometimes we laugh so hard we cry. Playfulness emerges from places where we dare to be real.
And then there is the food. On these theater dates we choose restaurants in which to dine that are appealing and special. We choose restaurants that one or the other of us has wanted to try. Some have been adventurous, some fine, all local—we love good food. Playing with excellent food is a delightful experience. I am someone who has been on a diet or has been thinking about food’s place in my life for all of my adult life. On these theater nights, life is not about diet. It is about eating well and experiencing the food. Eating with my friend on our theater nights creates a wonderful ambiance around the importance of play with food. Always fine wine—she drinks red. Me—red in winter and I like a lighter wine with the warmer weather. There is no excess to our eating—it is about enjoyment of flavors and textures. Enjoying new tastes and savoring the experience. From appetizer through dessert we enjoy the experience of taste, smell and texture. Eating is a sensory experience. It is natural. It is adventurous—and playfulness emerges.
And finally there is the laughter. Really, the laughter is the thread that ties the bond of sharing and the joy of eating together. She has a belly laugh—a laugh that I know her children found a bit embarrassing and now love. I love her laugh because of the joy it exudes. My laugh is really one big burst that is short but no less exuberant. Hers is the extroverted laugh and mine the introverted laugh. And laugh we do. The laughter rolls into the theater where we top off a great evening….evenings that we have enjoyed for many-a-time with many more to come. Playfulness lives in laughter of all kinds.
Sharing food with friends is a place where playfulness can reside. Around dinner tables in homes, picnics in the park, around campfires and in restaurants—where conversation is shared while bread is being broken, conversation and connection happen. Laughter emerges and playfulness comes out.
PLAY-TITUDE #6: Bon appetit!
PS. for those of you who enjoyed my laughing video, here is another. Happy laughing.
Thank you to Two Writing Teachers for dedicating space and time for teachers and teachers of literacy to come together to share ideas, practice and life experience.