A few years ago, in the midst of a crushing time at work, a colleague said she was learning that the antidote to stress and fatigue was not just rest, but fun. She said she was scheduling lots of fun into her time off. She found that she was more able to handle the complexity and stress at work after having spent her time playing.
I’ve thought a lot about her words since then, but haven’t really done anything about it. I’m not very good at fun. I often resist it. I push back on the frivolity and the pressure “to have a good time.” I am more of a steady worker kind of person. I like the feel of accomplishment and incremental progress. Keith and I have actually spent time talking about it. Neither of us really know how to fun. So, we do other things we enjoy… which almost often means work. We enjoy working in the garden and in the yard. We enjoy gathering people, feeding them, and spending time enjoying them. We like to explore new places, but sometimes we aren’t really sure what to do when we get there.
Most of the time, we import our fun. We have a whole collection of fun people who bring light and life into our lives. We are better because of these bursts of energy who push us out into the unknown. I think we sort of resigned ourselves to the quieter joys of our life. There isn’t anything wrong with that. But, I have this list I’m working on. As my next birthday nears, the calendar is chocked full of things I committed to doing. We are running out of time. So, we’ve been adding fun into the mix.
Last weekend, I convinced the kids to spend the afternoon playing laser tag. We met at the roller rink and stepped back in time. The kids reminisced about the last time they had been to this particular rink, but my memories carried me back to the rinks I had visited with my family in the ’70s. Bell bottom jeans and Farrah Fawcett hair were the thing, and we went to the rink as a family. I remember watching my grandparents gliding around the rink as I learned to stop by slamming into the wall. The fact that I was now the grandparent and that my three had now become six, was pretty amazing.
I added laser tag to my list because I’ve never done it. When the kids were little, we paid for them to playt but we didn’t join them. It seemed silly and an extravagance we couldn’t afford. Now, we all (except Steph who stayed outside with the baby) donned vests, watched the quick video, and decided to do it “everyone on their own.”
I laughed the entire time. The kids running around, shooting laser rays, giggling and laughing as they crouched down and popped up all around. I was terrible at it. I took out a 6-year-old little girl I didn’t see crouching in front of me (she is fine, but I did hit her so hard her sock fell off). It took me the first whole game to figure out why my laser wouldn’t fire (I kept getting shot). But watching my big kids play like they were 10 again and joining them in the fray was so much fun.
I’ve been thinking about our time ever since. As a student, I read the statistics about the value and benefits of play but knowing about something and incorporating it into my life are not the same. I think it’s time I learned to play…