September 1, 2008

A Sense of Play

“It is requisite for the relaxation of the mind that we make use, from time to time, of playful deeds and jokes.”  – Thomas Aquinas, Italian Theologian

There are days when the boy in me pushes against the work. When he wants to run through jungles like Tarzan, zap aliens, lay on the sofa watching old movies, and eat ice cream straight from the carton.

Even as we get older, and smell the coming of autumn, that playfulness stirs inside us, urging us to eat cookies and play hooky.

How easy it is to become so serious. The mortgage must be paid. The job must be done. There are presidential elections to consider, health insurance to deal with, and the lawn waits to be mowed. Get it done, do it now, just do it.

Even the pursuit of joy can become serious business.

I was having lunch with a friend of mine who asked me what I had enjoyed in the past week. And the question struck me as odd, not because I couldn’t think of the many joys I’d had during the week, but because working to remember them all took me out of the enjoyment of having a good lunch and a friendly conversation.

Sometimes we think too much. We analyze, fret, seek explanations. In the end, perhaps there are no explanations that truly matter. All we ever get is this moment, one precious moment we can either squander or step into with a sense of play and openness.

Of course there are things that require our attention! But perhaps we can approach them with a lighter heart this week.

What would it be like if we could imbue the seriousness of the many things that “must be done” with the imagination that helped us to turn bed sheets into a fort or playhouse once upon a time?

What would happen today if, in your work, you allowed the genius of play to transform it into something new, something powerful?

Can you find your sense of play?

Exercise

Make time this week to watch a child at play. Observe the absence of worry, the complete attention to the moment.

Where is that child in you?

What can you do to integrate that childlike attention in your life today?

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