When we were kids, we played. We played because we could. We played because, besides chores and practicing the piano, we had no obligations. When we played, our bodies and our minds complimented each other. There was no "should;" there was no "can't." It was all about feeling and expressing and enjoying and sometimes getting hurt. But after the tears, we would jump up and keep running or spinning or pretending. Our childhood play was not about checking off our task list. It was about being - and enjoying - who we were.
So let's bring the "play" back into our lives! As adults, we are required to do more than chores and practicing (and of course, now I wish I had more time to sit down at the piano or with my violin). We must produce. We must accomplish. We must do. But that doesn't mean that we can't enjoy ourselves like we did when we were 8 years old, attempting a handstand.
This was the topic of the introduction of my yoga class last night. My instructor always begins class with a thought. A topic of focus for that night's practice. This word - "play" - has been at the front of my mind ever since. So during my run today, I thought about how a child might approach those four miles. I will admit that most children wouldn't have a training schedule to follow, and therefore might not set out to run a set distance. But while my legs were moving and my arms were pumping and my lungs were working, I felt a lightness in my mind and my heart. I let myself feel joy at my ability to move my body to the beat of my music. In fact, while Regina Spektor was singing, I practically pulled a "Phoebe." (Name that reference!) My feet fell hard on the beat and my neck waved from side to side as if there were a paintbrush attached the the crown of my head, trying to paint a rainbow in the sky. My arms waved wildly in the air and a grin spread wide across my face as my breath tickled my lips in even puffs.
I made good time on this run. I boosted my speed for the last half mile, which helped my average quite a bit. So as I approached the intersection where I turn east, up the steep hill (mountain) to my house, I considered ending my workout on my Nike+ (the iPod attachment that calculates my distance, time and pace). I didn't want the slower pace up the giant hill to ruin my average. Then, a child's approach came to my mind. Would a child care at all about her average pace? No way! She would approach that hill with gusto. She and her friends (or brothers) would race to the top of the hill, not because they wanted to save face on their workout stats, but because they wanted to see how fast they could fly. I kept my timer going and ran up that hill faster than ever. Because I could.
At the end of a wild and wonderful day of play, a child does not ask herself, "Did I play well enough today?" Let's approach our own goals with a little more compassion and just be.