The Art of Play


Sometimes life is really stressful.

I’m the type of person who likes to have all her ducks in a row before moving forward with a plan. Unfortunately that is not usually how life works. When everything is a big question mark and when all my plans are in the air waiting to solidify, I get stressed.

I will be the first to admit that I have handled stress very poorly in my life. Often times I will push away whatever is stressing me out and try to ignore it. Or else I will stress myself out all the more as I try to take control of an uncontrollable situation. Lately, however, I’ve been trying to take on a position of submission when everything seems to come crashing down.

Today, I’m throwing my hands up in the air. There is nothing that I am able to do about the situation I am in currently. I have done everything there is to be done and it is time to let other people do what they need to do and get back to me. It is harder said than done because the “doer” (control freak) in me wants to be able to hold onto everything and puzzle it all out. I do not want to have to wait for other people to come through for me because I want things done in my time, on my schedule.

Yet in the moment, I have exhausted all of my resources and now have to sit and wait. I have to have patience even in the stress and anxiety that uncertainty brings. I have to wait for work situations to resolve, for school issues to unfold further, for life to take its course. I have to wait, even when waiting is stressful.

So on Sunday I bought a big, bright red bouncy ball. It is one of the ones that are in those big cage-like bins at Target. Tell me that you the reader were never tempted as a kid by one of them and I will call you a liar. They are the crème de la crème of childhood desire and I went out and bought one. Why? Because in the midst of all the stress, all the anxiety, all of the things I have to do and the things I have to wait for, I decided to indulge my inner child and play.

I do not play enough as an adult which is a tragedy really.

There is something in the art of gathering a bunch of friends and creating some sort of inane game that relieves stress. It takes me back to a time when I was a kid and did not have to worry about work, schools, my future, my family. It does not fix the situation but it gives me some room to breathe and enjoy life for a little while. When I have a big red bouncy ball in my possession, it is hard not to crack a smile and let the stress melt away.

Therefore, my challenge to anyone reading this is as follows: PLAY! Go do something fun this week with other people. Go pick up a basketball, get some friends together, and go shoot hoops. Get some squirt guns (if you live in Southern California like I do) and stage a neighborhood or campus squirt gun fight. Go and get some finger paint and a poster board from the dollar tree and create something.

Or you can do what I did and pay $3 for a giant red bouncy ball at Target.

Whatever choice you make, try to engage in play this week. I promise you will not regret it.