August 15, 2011

The State of Play

By Linda Anderson Krech
We just returned from a family camping trip. On the way home we were thinking about the highlights of the experience. There was the hike that provided enough challenge for all of us (even our bouncy mountain-goat daughters), and that culminated in a spectacular vista of the Adirondacks below. There was the exquisite kayak trip we took, right from our campsite. The herons that put on a show for us. And the loons that serenaded us each night. We read by the campfire and played the guitar, and we had a long game of Life in the tent one morning, while waiting for the rain to stop.

But after giving it some thought, what stands out most for me was my potion-making time with

my daughter, Bi. The playfulness that this activity required was unique and helped me to enter into a different state of mind – a state of play. She had brought along her 8-bottle tray of herbs and seasonings that she uses when making concoctions in the wild. We set up shop near the edge of the lake on land that was divided into twenty or more discrete sections, each bordered by tree roots and lined with pine needles. We cleaned up several of these little sites and identified a discrete purpose for each. We had several areas that held the supplies we needed for our brew – the tiny, medium and large twigs, little pinecones, cut up grasses, etc. Another station was for pounding materials with a rock. And then there was the natural bowl where the brew steeped before the special seasonings were added.

While engaged in potion-making, time slowed down for me. I relaxed as I tuned into my senses -- touching moss and roots, smelling herbs and searching for special materials. I entered the imaginative world of play, where there are no mistakes, where each step takes you further into the flow, where spontaneity rules. Although our entire camping trip was enjoyable, there was clearly a special quality to those moments when I engaged my imagination and played for the sake of play. Children remind us how to do this. When you spend time with a child and tune into their world, you can remember how this works.

Melissa Kirk has a great post at that includes some specific strategies for bringing more playfulness into your life.

Although children and puppies can draw us into their world of play, all we really need is our imagination to turn ordinary life into a game. One way to work this into your commute time each day is to search for something particular on your drive (only when you don’t compromise on safety, of course) -- shutters, front doors, mailboxes, trees, signs, animals, whatever interests you. Or you can just look for things you’ve never noticed before. Play the game of life whenever you can.

Posted on August 15, 2011 12:27 PM
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