In every real man, a child is hidden that wants to play.
~Friedrich Nietzsche

A few months ago, I met a talented and thoughtful woman on Instagram. We seemed to love the same things and were drawn to each other’s work. Melissa, being the braver of the two, reached out to me, and we started chatting. We talked about wishing we wrote more and decided to start writing together. When asked what she wanted the first theme to be, she suggested PLAY.

Play. It seems like a simple word to define. For me, it took weeks of thinking about it and its meaning to begin to describe it, and if I am honest, I am not sure I am still satisfied where I have landed.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

My first thought was that play was everything I loved to do. Adventuring new places and parts of town, going out on hikes with friends, reading…
Wait, is reading play? And if I keep making that list of all my favorite things to do- napping, meditating, cooking, and walking alone- would I consider these things play?

So I went back to the beginning. Maybe play is when you purposely do something you enjoy just for the fun of it. Well, that takes some things out again. I don’t cook dinner just for the fun of it. I cook dinner because I enjoy making food for my family AND we need to eat. I don’t hike with friends just because I enjoy it. My body needs the movement, and my soul needs the companionship.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

It felt like I was going in circles. I was doing what so many of us do best; I was overthinking it. I decided to put the idea and the thoughts on play aside and just to notice when I felt like I was playing.

So I went about my life. I woke up and made coffee and emptied the dishwasher. I took Sam to school and went for my walk. I saw clients and sat and listened with them. I meditated and read a little. I picked Sam up from school and made dinner. I sat with a glass of wine and talked to my husband about our days, and then went to bed.

I didn’t notice any play.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

So I tried something else. What if I added play to the moments of my day?

I woke up and made coffee and emptied the dishwasher. I timed myself to see if I could do it in less than 5 minutes. I can’t. Especially before I drink the coffee, but it made the mundane chore slightly more entertaining. When I went outside to take Sam to school, the sprinklers were on. Instead of trying NOT to get wet- or more honestly- being grumpy that I need to run through the sprinklers on some Tuesdays and Thursdays, I decided to have some fun. I tried to bend and contort my body as not to get wet. Sam was hysterical at my antics, and so was I. I drove Sam to school wet but laughing. On my walk, I tried paying attention to my senses. I listened to the birds singing and the cars racing past. I smelled the jasmine begging its summer bloom. I watched the shadows dance on the fences and the sidewalk. I felt the fresh breeze push against my back as if it was on my walk with me. I picked up Sam from school and started dinner. I decided to make something new and had some fun with an untried recipe. As Andy and I shared a glass of wine, we laughed and shared our day, and I noticed play in that.

I noticed the play. The previous day I hadn’t. But now that I was adding play and looking for ways to be playful, suddenly play became something I started to notice.  And this has continued.  Whether I am watching a sunset,  grabbing coffee with a friend, or pulling weeds in the garden- play seems to jump out at me. I am finding that I am quicker to ask, “How can I make this purposely fun and playful?”

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

Perhaps more of life than we think can be playful. I recently saw this video on my friend’s Facebook timeline. The hopscotch was there for everyone.  Everyone had the same opportunity to make traveling from one place to another playful.  However, only 129 did while 1,056 decided to just keep walking.

Maybe we look so carefully and seriously at life, that we miss the playful parts- we lose the surprises and the joy of the moments. Maybe if we begin our moments, whether they be chores, work, or even self-care, with a little dose of frivolousness and sparkle, maybe all of life can become sprinkled with play.

Hasselblad 500CM | 80mm Carl Zeiss Planar | Fuji Pro 400, pulled one stop

How do you define play? What do you do to add play to your life?

Go to Melissa’s beautiful blog to read her thoughts about play.

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