I remember as a child being sent outside to play. We were called in to eat lunch, dinner, or do chores, but we needed to play outside most of the day. As an adult, when was the last time you went out to play?
It has been a long time for me too!
And yet, so much of life is learned through playing. We learn about being competitive, fair play, rules, working as a team, or just what you are good at. Or maybe more important than what you are good at, something you enjoy doing.
If this season of “pause” has taught me nothing else, we all need to spend more time playing.
Suppose we got back to doing something just for the sake of doing it. We might learn more tolerance, compassion, and empathy—things that seem sorely lacking today.
My most recent experience with play was about a year ago.
My husband and I headed out to Colorado in October. We ran a half-marathon in Denver (definitely not play!) and then decided to take in the fall colors out in Winter Park. Spend time outside hiking, taking pictures- playing!
What I would learn is fall was well gone in October. In fact, they had so much snow in October, they opened the ski resorts early!
So, the hikes through the fall foliage were out, but walks in snow-covered paths with pine trees drooping in snow, were in.
If only we had come prepared for winter!
So, I bought some wool socks and a hat and headed and thought I was okay. Armed only with my cell phone to take pictures because I didn’t want to take my “real” camera out in the snow. It was quiet, beautiful, and …well…hiking at 9,000 feet for someone living at near sea level, hard!
But it was so much fun! And I learned a ton, like hiking boots, would work so much better on the path than my running shoes. (Which incidentally, breath to let your feet stay cool, which means water got in!!) And running does not get you in shape for hiking.
But it was amazing. A week spent playing outside.
And then my husband started wistfully looking at snow reports and the fact that they were opening a ski resort the week we were out here. If only he had brought his ski equipment. He was a bit sad he would miss out on the experience of skiing in Colorado.
And I thought, why not go?
He replied – no equipment, no ski coat, no ski gloves, no ski pants….
And I said rent and go with what you have. Why miss out on this opportunity?
See, when you open your mind to play, you think outside the box!
And the following morning, we traversed the snow-covered road from Winter Park to Keystone. Which incidentally was closed the day before because of all of the snow.
And why, you ask, did I not go, with my newfound spirit of play? Because I had only gone a handful of times when I was way younger. And let’s just say it didn’t go well. So, I stayed at the bottom on the slope in a bar. Warm and happy.
And maybe even more happy my husband got to experience Colorado skiing!
But the following day, my husband convinced me to try skiing again.
Heading up the gondola to ski was nerve-racking. I never really learned how to ski. You know the small things, like stopping and turning!!!
But the people we were riding up with were kind. It would come right back to you, just like riding a bike! They were giving tips. Sharing the rules, ways to ski as a beginner, and telling me to have fun!
I did point out to them that in my case, for skiing, I had never really learned how to ride this particular bike. The skiers laughed and said it would all be okay.
And honestly, it was all good. I stayed on the beginner slope, which involved a magic carpet and a gentle hill. Practicing turns and stops. I learned to play again!
I am willing to say I will never become even a blue run skier, but I may just graduate from the bunny hill onto green runs! Maybe.
But more important than how good I become, or don’t become, I got to enjoy learning something. The rules, the skills, and generally, to play again.
So, as we sit through this long winter, what might you do to engage in something fun. Not to become world-class at it. Just to engage your inner child in play!
Be blessed –