Okay, I know I get deep and to be honest, it pleases me. But even I can’t be deep all the time, so my playfulness balances me out.
I was lucky enough to stumble on a new form of play right after my friend got diagnosed with cancer. I showed up to try out a fitness class at AWOL Dance Studio all ready to try some yoga with backbends and handstands when the women waiting with me asked, “Do you have a partner?”
With wide eyes I said “No, do I need to have a partner?!”
“Well, you don’t have to have one but most people do.” And this was about the time I started to panic and wonder what I had gotten myself into.
At first blush it wasn’t so bad, we did partner up but it was with a person near my size and we did partner stretches. They were amusing and fun so I relaxed. After we were all warmed up, the instructors demonstrated what we were working towards that day. One person behind the other standing – the one in front jumped up with the assistance of her partner and landed on his shoulders! I was immediately shaking my head no and crossing my arms. I was NOT going to do this. I was not breaking my head or my crotch trying to JUMP up to someones shoulders!
Through the next 40 minutes we practiced assisted jumping, body positioning, movements, etc. I got switched to a male partner who seemed chiseled out of marble and when he assisted my jump I soared above his head. I screamed from pure elation, surprise and joy. After a few more practice jumps the instructor told us to try it while he spotted us and poof, like magic I was sitting on my partners shoulders. I screamed every time I jumped and I beamed with joy the whole time. I was hooked.
That was a little over three years ago and I still practice acro yoga. It was and is a wonderful place to put my energy. I got so concentrated on it that all of the drama from my friends’ disease just vanished. It was a place where no one asked me about what was happening, we all just played, laughed, and I will never again underestimate the healing power of touch. I am forever grateful to this wonderful community for all the freedom they helped me find during such a dark time.
It was apparent to me there were times I really needed to make a conscious effort to seek out those friends that were playful. I had a joyful pair of women I knew who played kickball and I would just go and watch the game. It was so fun – and funny – and silly that again, all that sad, heavy stuff just lifted.
Then there is my lovely puppy. We got him just before the diagnosis and he shows me everyday how to live in the moment with joyful playfulness.
This painting is for play. For all the play I did then and all the play I continue to do now. It may seem frivolous or like something you don’t want to do or something you can’t possibly connect to when you’re in grief but the benefits of play astronomically exceed the alternative distractions that numb us. It doesn’t take much; just find that thing that makes you lighter, makes you smile despite yourself, makes you curious or focused.
Jump in a puddle. Throw rocks. Chase your kid. Twirl around in a field. Have a race. Dance. Sing. Find any class. Laugh. So long as you’re able – never stop playing! Never! Never! Never!