Wednesday, May 2, 2012

The Incredible Lightness of Play

Like a crazy person, I continue my daily blogging. This month, exploring the idea of "play". It disturbs me that I've had to really think about this one. Play -- when do I do that? Do I do that? And if I do, when and what does it look like?

When I was much younger, play was very simple: walk out the door, go one house down to the right on South Hamilton Street, and there was Bobby. Knock on the door and ask if Bobby could come out to play. Collect Bobby, and then run into the backyard and go through the alleyway that connected the back of four neighborhood houses (including mine) and take a left to get over to Kevin's house on the other side of the block. Collect Kevin, and maybe go across the street to Christ Church and play forts. This usually consisted of sitting in a small group of trees and pretending we were "hiding out" as half the population of the town passed by the intersection near "the fort". 

After we get tired of hiding out, go to Penny's Variety Store and buy some Orange Crush and some Lick-a-maid sticks. Try to go to Kevin's house and get chased outside. Try to go to Bobby's house and get chased outside. Get bored and decide that the most fun thing in the world would be to make mud burgers, load them into the large, flat leaves that fall from the trees in Bobby's backyard, and chuck them at his sister's underwear hanging on the clothesline. For some reason, we thought it would also be fun to yell, "Yippee! Yappee! Yahoooey!"

Bobby was a funny guy. He had this great laugh and was normally "the good kid". But every once and a while, something would just light his fire and he would display this little wild streak. At that point, there was no stopping him. I remember that we each were making the mud burgers and climbing on the sliding board so we could get a better launch pad toward the huge, white sister-panties. We'd throw the mud bomb, scream the battle cry and slide down the sliding board. We must have thrown about 20 of these things. Bobby's face was getting all red and he had crossed over into The Wild Zone. Kevin and I were laughing so hard, but not so hard that we didn't see Bobby's grandfather when he came out on the back porch. Bobby didn't see him, or was just too far gone. His grandfather had to yank him off the sliding board and drag him into the house. We didn't see him for a few days after that. It's a wonder that he didn't end up on a milk carton.

These days, playing is a little more complicated. But when I think of playing and think about the times that I'm really having fun, it usually involves losing myself in an activity, getting dirty and being wild. I'm not even kidding.  Skiing fast with my iPod in my helmet, spending a week at tennis camp, going on a marathon hike at Glacier or ending a long day of cycling with my legs covered in bike grease, is my way of playing. I mean, there are certainly other activities that I enjoy, but I guess I associate playing with a kind of wild abandon that almost becomes a meditation. It's like a relaxed focus, all at the same time.

By the way, I guess I don't need to point out that I was a bit of a tomboy when I was a kid, no?


  1. No, I don't think you needed to point that out. LOL

    1. LOL. Good to know...I was such a crazy kid!

  2. I think my play is definitely missing the 'wild abandon' factor. It's hard for me to let go. My brain is always trying to stay practical :-)

    1. I agree with you! And I think I am like that too. I guess it's the activity and the endorphins and the being outside that make me start to lose myself (a good thing) and my "grown-up" side.

      Now that my knee is fixed, I have to remember to yell "Yippee, Yappee, Yahooey" the next time I'm skiing...just to keep my hand