Play is hard to maintain as you get older. You get less playful. You shouldn’t, of course.
I recently threw out my back. Out of nowhere, one day I woke up and simply could not stand up. I raked my mind; what on earth could I have done to bring this about? My first call was to a trusted friend who is an osteopath and my go-to person in case of injury. Claire took one look at me, and said, “Have you been making any time for yourself?”. I was taken aback. My stunned silence said it all.
It took me a few moments to connect the dots and realize she’d hit the nail on the head. I work out regularly, run a household and manage the schedules of everyone in it, cook, clean, drive kids around the city, walk the dogs, volunteer extensively, write this column…. but no, I can’t say there was one single activity that would qualify as ‘play’. Claire explained that when people come in with a back that has suddenly given out - without an accompanying fall or trigger of some kind - it most often means they are carrying a heavy load. It’s your body’s way of saying ‘that was the last straw’. You may be reading this and think “that’s ridiculous!”. But in my case, it was all too true.
The silver lining in this experience has been to conclude that I need to free up time for plain old fun, with no goal other than it be an enjoyable activity. I realize there is deep irony here, considering my message has been, and continues to be, follow your bliss. It seems I’m very good at advising others but entirely forgot about taking my own advice.
Finding time for play may seem obvious, but I wonder how many of us actually follow through. Mothers are probably the worst offenders, as someone else always seems to come first. When was the last time was you did something just for pure pleasure: took a painting class, played a game with friends, threw a frisbee, sang karaoke.....
I know myself. My own worst instincts will interfere with this plan. There’s that guilty little voice that says “you should be (fill in the blank here)”. Despite this voice, from here on out, I’ve made myself a promise. I plan to schedule time every week for something that brings me joy. As soon as I’m back on my feet again, that is.