Last week I was out walking our furry family member, Chloe, before heading to work. It was the best morning walk I have been on in a long time, and the reason is, I was behind a little boy on his way to school. He became my inspiration not only for those few minutes, but everyday since.
He was by himself and took full advantage of it! Time was on his side. There was no one to say, “hurry up, you’re going to be late!” or “let’s go!” or “stop dawdling!”… instead, I heard him sing, skip, jump, march, and move side to side while making animated hand gestures to the beat of his own song. He stopped and watched a squirrel, picked up some fallen leaves, and simply played as he made his way to school. Played.
My usual 20-minute speed walk turned into a slow saunter, as I too got lost in time. I didn’t want to catch up to him nor have him see me. I just wanted to enjoy seeing his youthful spirit, freedom, and imagination in motion – his version of a morning walk to school.
Interestingly, I was not thinking of my own children in that moment. Instead, I was taken back to my own childhood of walking to school and the found freedom of time and space to make my way, live in my own imaginary world, love life, enjoy the little wonders along the way and play. Something I rarely do now in my fast-paced, scheduled days. It made me think through a few things:
- Does play end when we become adults with responsibilities?
- How important is play and rest, at this stage of our lives?
- Where does our spirit, imagination, and silliness go as we age?
- Do we always have to “play it cool” because we’re adults? (Even the “Fonz” from Happy Days was silly at times!)
- Whatever happened to a recess in the middle of the day?
- When was the last time I was silly with colleagues or friends ,and laughed that deep belly laugh until tears rolled down our cheeks and our tummies hurt so much we could not breath? (I bet that just made you smile 🙂 )
I recalled a previous client of mine that had their employees take a mandatory 30-minute recess once a week. Each department chose how to spend that time together. It encouraged fun and play time as a team, which in turn yielded productivity and cultural benefits for the organization.
As Brené Brown writes in The Gifts of Imperfection, “We are a nation of exhausted and overstressed adults raising overscheduled children,” and in many cases “exhaustion and productivity become badges of honor”. We tend to forget about the importance of making the time for rest and play.
Take time this week to think about what occurred to me that day. Ask yourself “….am I making time to play?”
Why? Because life is too precious to spend pretending we’re totally in control, when we could instead be laughing, singing, dancing, playing….and have a sore tummy from a good ‘ol belly laugh. And, because we knew how to play when we were young – so we know we can!
For some fun at your desk – here is the link to the opening of Happy Days! I dare you to sing and dance like no one is watching! xo
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& my Mom and Dad 🙂