Through these daily reflections, we play a lot with metaphor. Through metaphor we engage our imaginations in a way that can allow us to think about our lives, to explore unfamiliar places, and to go on some adventures. That has certainly been true with “the playground.”
For the last few weeks, I have tried to view my life more as a playground. Here is what I have learned:
1. I can take any act or set of circumstances that I routinely engage in my life and choose to be more playful in them. As soon as I do that, nothing in that moment is routine anymore. Approaching almost anything playfully adds a level of interest and excitement about what I might have floated through only half aware. In other words, choosing to do something playfully makes me more mindful and in the present moment.
2. Choosing to be playful in places and circumstances where I am normally not can confront me with fears that I had forgotten were running me. I found this to be most surprising, and I think this is true, for me at least, because play takes me out of my routine, and routine gives me the sense that I am in control. Play, therefore, reminds me–perhaps abruptly–that life is not always about me being in control.
3. Choosing to be playful makes me smile more. When I smile more, I connect with people, both known and unknown to me. Smiling evokes both joy and compassion in me. People respond positively to genuine smiles. When play sets me free from fears and routine and control, it apparently invites others to do the same–even if for a moment.
4. The converse is true: just because I’ve decided to engage something (e.g. going to the grocery store) as play does not mean that everyone around me will understand that or want to play themselves. So, when choosing to play, I still have to know what my boundaries are (and try to perceive those of others).
5. Being playful creates pleasant experiences and memories. Who can’t use more of those?
Someone once tried to convince me that metaphorical thinking was a waste of the human mind when we had so much “fact” and “reality” to focus on. I was not convinced at the time, but since returning to “the playground” through this selected theme in our Unitarian Universalist community, I am convinced that it is one of the most powerful aspects of ourselves that we human beings can enjoy. Now, it’s Saturday. Go play!