Time to Play! And if Anyone Complains, Tell Them You're Doing it for Your Health.
I have come to recognize that there is an "unspoken" time of our lives when something changes. You don't really know when it happens, but as we grow up we are suddenly inundated with the "shoulds" in our life. You should go to school, you should get a job, and you should pay less attention to yourself and more to others. You should get married. You should have children. You should give up yourself for your children. You should save for retirement. And so on. Many of these "shoulds" are necessary to make your way through life.
However, we additionally begin to make judgments: Are we good enough? Can we be good enough? How can we be good enough? Our minds constantly wander back and forth between the past and the future. What about the present?
One analogy I have heard is that life is like a roll of toilet paper - the closer it gets to the end, the faster it goes! As I get older, I do feel more like a roll of toilet paper. Years, like paper layers, disappear faster and faster... where is life going? And my head keeps spinning, worrying about what I could have done different in the past as a big fluffy roll of absorbing goodness. And then I ask myself what "should" my goals be for the future and how do I get there before the layers run out and I hear the last flapping sound of the cardboard roll?
Do I really want my life to unwind without experiencing every single two=ply fragment of my fluffy existence? No! I want to slow it down, savor my existence here on earth and not let time spin by without my attention.
So what now? Pay attention! Be in the moment. Enjoy the here and now. How do we do that? Believe it or not it takes practice. Practice? That doesn't sound like fun, who wants to practice? I guess it's another thing I "should" do. Why can't it just be fun?
Well, why can't it? There is one thing that we were better at as a kid than we are as adults and that is playing. Somewhere in that inundation of "shoulds" we had to give it up, lost it, or set it aside because we "just can't do that anymore." I say, HOGWASH! Play is just as important as an adult as when you were a wee one. Remember when the days seemed long and they would go on forever when you were a child? Can you picture a time when you were full of joy and there was no judgment about what you were doing? You were in the moment, enjoying with every cell of your being. It's funny that something that came to us so naturally as a child is now something we need to practice.
The key, the magic ingredient, is to pay attention. Give yourself permission to look all around at the big things and the small things that make you happy, bring you joy and offer fun in life - you deserve it! Now, PLAY! PLAY! PLAY! Notice how your body, your mind and your spirit feel as you let go of the past, the future, the judgments, and you let your inner-child soar. Stress is reduced, your mind and heart are open and time slows its rapid roll of dizzy loops.
If there is one wish I could have for everyone it would be to absorb all that life has to offer; have fun, enjoy, savor, live!