On the other side of the creek which runs along the bottom of our property is one of the few Bus Stops in the valley for school children. On any morning, the sound of children’s chatter and laughter can be heard filtering up the hill to my home as they await the arrival of their bus. Yesterday, as I passed the creek on my morning walk, I caught a glimpse of a dozen or more kids climbing all over the three tree trunks that now rest in the creek bed thanks to the combination of drought and flood of the past few years. Here they were, kids of all ages in all different uniforms simply enjoying that which nature has provided. At an earlier time, a now much older group of children would play chasings with Buster (my dog), running back and forth along the one huge log which then stretched across the embankment.
Just as we reached the Stop, the bus came zooming in accompanied by shouts of “BU-US” from the few children still on look-out. Seconds later kids came running up and out of the creek, scrambling for bags and tripping over one another, some stopping momentarily to pat or be licked by Buster as he teetered cautiously around them before they jumped on the bus.
All this happened so quickly that it was only on reflection that I could appreciate the beauty of it. Here was a poignant reminder of the creativity and carefree nature of children at their best. They’d improvised to make this their playground and, like all children when given a chance, seized the moment for their pleasure. Nothing mattered other than the opportunity to play and have fun! And I have no doubt; as a result, they went off to school happier and more stimulated for a day of learning.
The question for us as adults – both young and old – is “Would we have done the same; do we do the same?”, or do we put off or deny ourselves such enjoyment? Have we, caught up in all the seriousness and busyness of life simply forgotten (how) to have fun? There is a cost to all of us when we forget that play, and yes, even silliness is as valid and necessary as any other aspect of life.
Bringing a sense of playfulness into the whole of life, notwithstanding the need for reverence on occasion, seems a goal worth pursuing. When done with respect for oneself and others, playfulness can bring lightness to even the most difficult of circumstances. And work without play is only half as rewarding is it not?
So… play with your kids, and partners, and friends, and colleagues. This is one way you can light up your own and others’ lives today.
Inner Sense No. 6 | October 2007 – updated June 2019