So many times I remembered when I was a kid thinking that when I grew up, I promised myself I was still going to play.
I loved board games, playing outdoors, tag, crack the whip, hide and go seek, Mother may I? Simon says–all of this was Da Bomb.
When we lived in Ohio, there was the marina down at the end of the street along with the city park. We’d play there for hours and we’d fish, hang out.
In Illinois, it was all about playing outside, hitting the woods, the tree fort, the creek and the river. Camping out, hanging out with friends, maybe indoor and outdoor games, maybe riding the horses down at a friend’s place next to the Sportsman’s Club.
It was a fairly loose agenda in both places of my childhood years. We’d do whatever the moment carried us to do, “just because”.
When we hit high school, it was more about partying and dances or sports related activities. Sometimes we’d hit the YMCA for swimming. But, I think adolescence is when actual playing and the joy and wonder of childhood started to change. Everything started to have a purpose and the spontaneity of childhood, the “just because” factor, started to take a back seat.
When the kids were little, we’d take them on outings and to the parks. We’d get them on the playground equipment, but more as parents keeping a watchful eye on them and spotting them on the slides, swings and merry-go-rounds. We’d play board games with them on weekend evenings or a game of I Spy With My Little Eye every now and then.
Any actual physical activity with other adults became generally sports related like volleyball or bowling. Maybe fishing, perhaps a game of Euchre or other card games.
Again, those are not bad activities. But somehow, we’ve lost most of the exuberance of childhood, enjoying the great outdoors with the enthusiasm of a child, doing nothing and doing everything, “just because”.
I know we have more cares and responsibilities with our passage into adulthood. I’m sure most of us would look silly hanging out in a tree fort. Not to mention the neighbors might call the men in white coats on the neighbor who has finally gone ’round the bend!
But I was looking at my oldest cat which set me to pondering about this. Woody is now 15 years old, and I think he’s not long for this world. Age and numerous cat problems are catching up with him. But, I caught him playing the other day with one of the ornaments. Slap shotting it around like it was a hockey puck. For a brief moment, I would have thought he was a kitten again. But he was doing it for the sheer fun of it. Again, it was the feline version of “just because”!
Several years ago I was visiting my best friend. It was a beautiful summer day with fluffy white clouds passing overhead. A typical late afternoon on a warm day. We were just hanging out in her backyard when she pointed at one cloud and said, “Look! There’s Mickey Mouse!” Sure enough, the cloud did look like Mickey. We spent maybe a good 45 minutes pointing out what this cloud and what that cloud looked like. I hadn’t done that in years. I think looking at Nature through the eyes of a child, the imagination and fun for fun’s sake and playfulness is something that starts to elude us as we grow older and are burdened with the weight of everyday life.
We have Prozac and other good and truly wonderful drugs for depression. We have numerous pills to help us to sleep at night. But, I really think if we started to look at the world through the eyes of a child, started to regain that sense of playfulness, we’d certainly have a more positive outlook on life in general and might find some of our own worries and troubles easier to bear and find ourselves resting a little better at night.
So, if you find me skipping stones across the surface of the lake someday or jumping into a pile of leaves next fall, please don’t think I’ve finally lost all of my marbles! I’m just enjoying myself, and do join me for a little while, “just because”!