My first realization that I didn’t play was while reading Year of Yes by Shonda Rhimes and she talked about going on a walk or something merely for the enjoyment of moving your body and not because you have a desire to fit in a particular size of jeans. I realized at that point that I couldn’t remember the last time I ran or exercised for the sheer enjoyment of it.
A couple months after that, I was reading The Gifts of Imperfection by Brene Brown and she introduces us to the concept of play via Dr. Stuart Brown and his National Institute of Play. She admits that she struggled with the definition of play. In reading her book, I realized that everything I did had to move me towards a goal or checking an imaginary box towards some goal. I realized that I never did anything for the sole pleasure of doing it.
Now it’s a year or so later and for a group that I’m part of, we are reading Deep Play by Diane Ackerman. She states that, “…play requires freedom.” “Deep play is a state of unselfconscious engagement with our surroundings; an exalted zone of transcendence over time; A state of optimal creative capacity.” We had a discussion about what play and what deep play meant to each of us. It was interesting that we all perceived it a bit different. I personally think that play are those moments of fun or enjoyment where we aren’t focused on the things that we have to do or performing a task to attain a goal. I think that Deep Play are those moments where we lose track of time, we lose our breathe from the awe of it, or some other higher moment. It could be when you come around the corner on a hike and you are in awe of the beauty that surrounds you. It is personal to you.
Today my husband suggested we leave the neighborhood to go on a run. I decided not to wear my watch and to just enjoy my time out on the trail. There was definitely a moment of Deep Play that brought me such happiness. I was struggling on the run part but then I looked up, my husband is ahead and we are enclosed in the bright green of the forest in PNW in Spring. Then I noticed there are prayer flags rippling in the breeze. The beauty of everything just captured me.
It was about this time that I hit the fifth chapter of the audiobook I’m listening to, The Happiness Project by Gretchen Rubin. This chapter happened to be titled May – Be Serious About Play. Her goals for the month of May in her Happiness Project are: find more fun, take time to be silly, go off the path, and start a collection. Even Gretchen Rubin admits, “I realized to my surprise that I didn’t have a good sense of what I found fun.” I think it’s interesting that the Universe keeps throwing the perfect books in my path at the right time. I’m really enjoying Rubin’s chapter on play and listening to her journey on finding what is fun for her. I feel like I’m doing the same thing right now.
I think fun is different for each of us and it changes as we change. During this period when there is so much stress, sadness, and fear all around us, now is the perfect time to figure out what are some things you find fun? What do you consider to be play? Take a moment to indulge in a little play, whatever that is for you. For me, it’s going on walks/runs for the enjoyment of getting out, reading a book that is a guilt pleasure, and writing these blog posts.