Sunday, April 25, 2010

Play Time

My yoga teacher talked about play this morning, saying we cannot have freedom if we don't also have fun. So in order to be truly relaxed and expansive, we have to be able to let loose and laugh at ourselves. Wow! What a concept. I see my kids play every day, imagining elaborate story lines, and acting them out, or building forts in the basement, or just running and spinning and jumping until they fall down. When was the last time I let loose like that? I can think of one night at an 80s bar downtown with my girlfriends, but does that count?
It's hard to be silly past a certain age. I am always cheered by people who seem to be really enjoying themselves, even though they're in public. Like the Starbucks barista who asked me for my order in song this afternoon. Literally sang to me, what do you want today? I couldn't help but smile, and I gave her a nice tip (but I didn't sing back to her...). Then there are people who can be truly outrageous in fashion, but somehow manage to look like they're having fun, rather than ridiculous. Wild hats, bright colors, finger nails with leopard spots, I don't think I could pull those things off, and would be terrified to try.
So where can an otherwise starched adult let loose? Dancing can be very freeing, if you can get over self-consciousness and just have fun, which doesn't happen for many people without booze involved. Same thing for karaoke. I think play time is not a high priority for most adults. Most of our fun comes from watching someone else, like movies or TV. To actively participate in physical fun requires a leap of faith and a willingness to be ok with the outcome, even if you look ridiculous. I know I can avoid appearing totally nuts by doing things with my kids. I will get in the inflatable bouncer at our neighborhood parties, or do cartwheels in our backyard. Last year several parents got into a water fight started by the kids. Everyone was soaked, and laughing their heads off!
Yoga class is another place to play and try fun things. I feel so blessed to have teachers who lead us in handstands across a "runway" of mats, or have us pick up our knees and march around swinging our arms. We try arm balances just because we can, and everybody falls sometimes. But nobody cares. When I first started classes, I couldn't believe how freeing it was to know that if I try something new and fail, I get to try again another time and maybe I'll succeed then. Or maybe I won't, but I'll keep kicking up my feet, trying to get them over my head! In the end it feels like recess. Wouldn't we all be happier if that were a regular part of our day, even as a grown-up?

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