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How do you play?

This weekend we took a trip to Dunham Massey to see the snow drops and (we hoped) some deer. We were successful on both these counts and enjoyed a lovely wrapped up walk. However, I always find myself a little disappointed that, now we have no small children to accompany us, we miss out on the activity trails that are going on. The assumption being that as adults we don’t want to play. Sometimes I can gather my courage and ask for the maps or worksheets from the staff handing them out to children, but there is always the worry that I will be met with a terse ‘It’s only meant for children’ response rather than a smile.

Some days I can manage the negative response and the judgements that are implicit within it, but on days when my resilience is already low (or if I’m tired/hungry/cold) I can be left feeling that yet again I am failing to ‘adult’ properly. Of course, I know this is not really the case, I firmly believe that we learn best when we play, because it helps to foster a lightness and curiosity in our attitude. When we play there doesn’t have to be a right and a wrong, it’s all a practice and one we can find joy in. It allows us to try new things and new ways of thinking. To learn new skills and new ways of being. Most of my favourite adults have continued to play and successfully integrate it into most parts of their lives.

It's so easy to get caught up in other people’s judgements that might attach labels like childish to our playfulness, judgements that have the potential to lead us to a place of shame about the things we enjoy. There seems to be more value put onto activities that are aligned to a ‘purpose’ (usually work or money related), but when we play the value comes form the activity itself, from being present with ourselves in the moment. It took me a long time to reconnect with my ability to play, but now it is something that often comes up in my work with clients as we work to identify where their joy is.

How do you play?

Close up of a group of snowdrops surrounded by fallen leaves. Text reads "How do you play?"

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