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What did I learn today - Remember to play!

Last night I was reminded of the joy that play can bring.  

We were visiting friends who rent a house in Florida.  The house has a screened in lanai with a small swimming pool - the pool has shallow steps that lead into the water.  My husband and adult son were swimming, I was enjoying a cocktail with our friends at the patio table.  My guide dog, Finn, who is almost seven years old, was waiting patiently at my feet.  Then my son did a canon ball into the pool.  Finn’s head came up and followed my son’s every move.  Off came the harness, into the pool went the tennis ball, and a half hour of wild, wet, pure play followed.  My friends provided the audio description, my son and husband provided the supervision for safety and Finn - he provided the fun, and fueled the laughter. They played and played and played, we laughed and laughed and laughed.

George Bernard Shaw, the playwright, once said “We don’t stop playing because we grow old, we grow old because we stop playing.”  As adults, we are concerned with schedules, deadlines, responsibilities and expectations. Play allows us to engage with ourselves, and the world around us without any goal or purpose other than pure enjoyment.  In play, it doesn’t matter what our skill level is, how silly we look or sound, or how efficiently we complete the task.  It doesn’t matter why we are playing, only that we are playing.  Play is important to our physical health and our mental health.  Play connects us to ourselves and others, it promotes learning, and it triggers endorphins that make us happy.  

I can tap dance on the sidewalk, I can crawl on the floor playing with a child or a dog, I can squeal louder than a 6 year old when I go down the water slide, I can wear a tiara when I am preparing dinner and I can laugh out loud at my own jokes.  I can play like Finn in the pool, with the joy of pure delight, the freedom of untethered glee and the total abandonment of childhood play. Then I can go back to my schedule, my deadlines, my responsibilities  and my expectations, a more relaxed, calmer, happier and healthier woman.


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