Originally published on Sunflower Creative Arts’ blog March 2011
One day while I’m out running I stop at the park in my neighborhood. I look around to make sure nobody is watching, and then I jump on the swing.
Thinking of my three-year-old, because this is something we usually do together, I pump my legs and point my feet– up to touch the leaves on the trees, up to touch the birds, up to touch the blue-blue sky, up to touch the sun!–until I’m as high as I can go. The swing is at the very tiptop of its arc and I’m suspended weightless for just a second, and then I fall back. I’ve got my favorite song playing on my iPod and I close my eyes and rise and fall into the music. Beautiful. That’s it. I’m flying.
This surrender to gravity is a powerful feeling. With each arc, I can feel a bone-deep understanding of the hours and hours both my daughters have spent, just swinging. “I’m going to swing forever. I’m going to swing till I die! No you can’t stop me–I’m never gonna get out of this swing!”
Pretty soon though, I do stop and open my eyes, reluctantly, because I am an adult after all– and I do realize I can’t swing forever. Probably my family misses me. They need me to come back home…
I see a car drive by the park, and I hope they don’t see me. I feel a little crazy. Silly, because adults don’t come to the playground alone, with no kids, and just swing and swing. But I feel good. Peaceful. Balanced. Somewhere deep inside me I really needed that.
For children, play is a way to deal with complex emotions, to feel their bodies move in space, to experiment with their own voice, to try out different roles and test relationships and discover creativity and feel their own power. All this sounds pretty nice to me.
When do we adults ever get a chance to do any of that?
At what point in our lives do we stop playing? When do we become so self-conscious and serious and forget that the world is a beautiful, ever-changing wondrous place?
And wouldn’t it be nice if we didn’t forget? What if all of us adults actually remembered what if feels like to play?
Imagine what better friends, parents, partners–people–we could be if we just made the decision to play a little, not to take life so seriously. Just for a minute, to let go of of all the ‘shoulds’ and worries and responsibilities that tie up our lives, and instead give ourselves up to the simple push and pull of gravity.
*The feeling described in this essay is the spark that started my blog/adventure, discovered in play.