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Play With No Purpose

A personal goal the last couple of years – and one I plan to carry into this new year— take more time to play. Play with no purpose in mind.  Let go of my to-do list, turn off my phone, stop worrying about what needs to be done.  Play by myself, play with my friends, play with my husband – play and have fun

Play is hard to maintain as you get older. You get less playful. You shouldn’t, of course.

                                                               -Richard Feynman, American physicist

I played a lot when my kids were young. Teaching, entertaining, and nurturing the little people in my life brought out my creative and relaxed self.   We spent lazy afternoons at the swimming pool and the zoo, baking cookies, hunting for bugs.  We rollerbladed and played street hockey.  The  dining room table turned into a wonderful mess of craft projects.

Then the little people got older – they did more and more playing on their own and didn’t always need or want me to join in.  More and more, I served as the chauffeur and chaperone for their play.  I watched them play on athletic fields.   Besides, I was an adult –  I had other things I should do anyway.  I needed to be productive and busy and check things off my list. 

Gradually, I fell out of the practice, out of the regular habit of REAL, PURE play – letting myself go and just checking out for awhile.  I forgot to remember  how important it is to create and explore and relax – just for the sake of playing.   

We all need empty hours in our lives or we will have no time to create or dream.

-Robert Coles, American child psychologist

So – what constitutes play for me?  Being a list maker, I made a list.  I have a running tab of fun things I want to do and constantly add new ideas for play – I don’t discount an idea or worry about feasibility or resources.  Just a bucket list that I turn to each week for inspiration and planning.

Take a dance lesson.  Go to the coffee shop with a book. Decorate cookies. Play a board game.  Sign up for a cooking class.  Go for a hike.  Float on a raft in the pool.  Try a new exercise class.   Visit the art museum.  Take a walk and enjoy the fall colors.  Golf.  Buy a set of paints.  Try paddle boarding.  Grow a plant.  Explore a new shop.  Bike.  See a movie with a friend.  Tour a brewery.  Schedule an afternoon to take a  field trip in my own city.  Go horseback riding.  Stroll around a neighborhood and stop and have an interesting cup of tea. Ice skate. Experiment with a new brownie recipe – or cocktail.  Knit a scarf.  Plan a girls’ trip. 

As silly as it seems, play with no purpose used to make me somewhat nervous.  It was hard to completely relax when I was  thinking of all the things I SHOULD or COULD be doing.    But I gradually  learned to stop listening to that little nagging voice – I let it go.  Playing for pure and utter enjoyment has become something I look forward to,  something I need.  And guess what – I still get all the important and necessary stuff done too. 

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