I come back to it time and time again that four letter word only one letter away from Pray, and that's Play!
It's interesting that my mind keeps churning the phrase: in defense of play, in defense of play, in defense of play. As though it was something I really had to hold up shields for, as if everyone was trying to tear it apart and rip it down.
Why might this be?
Flash back to my childhood.
My sisters and I were trickster, changeling faeries babes: equal parts devil to angel. It was our favourite to run into the woods, exploring sun dappled caragana groves and trying to side eye magic before it sidled away from us. We also liked to lie on the carpets of our homes and scream and squawk and basically be raucous little devil monkeys.
"Girls be quiet!" Was the oft sung refrain of our house. Because we were just that: a unit of sound, called The Girls. And The Girls had to clean their rooms and scoop dog poop before they were allowed to play. The Girls had duties and chores. In some ways our play was encouraged and in others it was tampered down. But with our drawers of dress up clothes, abundance of barbies and river valley woods just across the street, I think we had it pretty good when it came to playing.
And then there was school,where playtime was relegated to recess. You will notice that the recipe for school is not equal parts learning to play. Though ironically we often learn the most through play. But NO, the school system is not organized like that.
There is a valuing of work over play, of order over chaos, of masculine over feminine that is inherent in the mossy stone structures of the school system.
At home it was my mom saying "You girls are so loud! Alice I can hear every word you are saying."
At school it was "Alice is very quiet in class. Alice doesn't contribute much. Alice is shy and soft spoken."
Because I didn't want to be there, because my soul was alive in play and squashed in routine and order.
I loved to learn, but boy did I not love to sit, or be quiet or follow arbitrary rules even though I did do just that. And very well I might add.
So I don't want to defend play, I want to commend it. I want to praise it and build it up, and share it so that it needs no defense at all.
I am not saying do away with structure or routine, I am saying make play a part of your structure and routine.
This idea that if we chose a thing, that it must mutually exclude the other thing is nonsense.
We can have both our fairy cake and our plate to eat it on too.
So how do we include play in our day? How do we make it part of or practice of alternate nostril breathing and side body stretches? Of rubber boots and early morning colonics? Of coffee and cream?
That's up to you.
But I don't know how to play you say!
Okay start by praying. After all it's easy enough to shave that little hook of the "r" and turn it into play.
So pray. Ask God, or the divine, or shiva, or shakti or whoever your heart, your nose, your ears, ask them all "how can I play? How do I want to play?"
And sometimes it will bubble up in you and it's like jumping. It really is. You are eleven years old again and you are on top of that tower looking down at the tiny turquoise chlorine bubble of the pool below, wondering why you thought this would be fun. And people all lining up behind you(other impulses, jostling to be expressed), and either you turn around and walk back down, or you jump.
And you jump baby, cause you are brave, and the air whooshes around you and and then you are smacking into the water, and you are thrashing to the surface and you've survived and it's exhilarating and everyone has seen you, and nobody laughed and now you can do it again, because you know what it feels like and it's fun.
Play is like that.
Only sometimes you are just jumping off a curb into a puddle, and it's a little splash, but it's just as satisfying, and just as fun.
Play is about paying attention, about you got it, playing attention to the little tugs of longing in your heart. All those vowel sounds and somersaults that wish to be expressed.
Today I just sang, rolled backwards and repeated silly strings of nonsense to myself for a good hour or two. For a God hour or two, because yes dammit, play is sacred and more and more I want to do it, because it's most loving to me to be free.
And yes I do still feel self conscious. I don't want to be that type of drama nerd that my sisters so loathed growing up. The one they stuck their noses up at and said with scorn "UGH! drama kids are the worst." And maybe my flavour of play is more flamboyant than your flavour of play. You will notice I used the tower metaphor before the curb, because I'm kinda an all or nothing girl who is learning to have a middle. But has always existed in the extremes and that's okay.
However we show up to play is however we show up. We are allowed to be that person that absolutely loves quoting one liners from a movie, yes over and over again. Because dammit, it feels good to us. We like to feel the texture of those words in our mouth. Just to try them out for size like funny dentures, we don't want to stop and that's play. It's this flow of impulse and silliness. It's this make and ass out of ourselves,and we will be judged ,stream of instinct.
We get to eat our fairy cake on a plate, but someone is telling us we chose the wrong plate and that our fairy bell is too loud.
Well I say fuck 'em baby, let's let our fairy bells ring. Let's go forth and flit and fairy belly all over the place. Fairy bell loud, fairy bell proud, fairy bell like it's ninteeen twenty unicorn
Come roll on the carpet with me! Come stretch and make sounds like a seal in distress. Or come do what feels good to you.
I'd love a friend, to play with.
Meow, meow wink face, rainbow jabberwacky jabbewacky doo! *dribbles and rolls over*