Along my walking path, there is an abandoned school. While the school is run down and boarded up, it is surrounded by wooded acreage. The land is beautiful, like a secret treasure hidden away off the beaten path of everyday life. I often walk the grounds, watch the sun peek through the trees while I fantasize about what I would do with the land if I ever won the lottery that I don’t play.
There is a small playground in the back lot, and for days I have resisted the urge to swing on the swings. Until today. Today I stopped. I reflected on the practice in our culture to leave silliness, spontaneity and play for children. I can tell that there is a child within me and she was screaming to get on one of those swings.
As I wrestled with my resistance, I thought about how difficult this season often is for me, and for many. Seasonal Depression is real. Layer on a few triggers of grief over those who died this time of year, or even earlier this year. I owned how quickly my mood can spiral into dark despair, and how play is one thing that I have given myself permission to do. I reminded myself of my commitment to play.
With my resistance still weighing heavy, I walked to the swing, but in my head I was skipping. As soon as I sat down I felt a lightness in my heart. I shuffled my feet in the dirty wood chips until I picked up a little speed. Gliding, I stretched out my arms and leaned back, allowing the bright sun to shine on my face. I couldn’t have stopped smiling if I tried.
Two minutes of heaven. Right there, on an abandoned playground, where for even if only a moment, all was right with the world. I was free, good enough, and full of joy. Each day is a new beginning, and we choose what to do with it. Whether it’s the season, the weather, the holidays, our relationships or our addictions that we wrestle with, it’s important to take time to play.
Anne Dillard said, “How you spend your days, is how you spend your life”. No matter what our script is, we must be an active part of our own self-care. We must choose to be awake for this one short adventure. Sure it’s work, but as with any work, when we follow our truest desires, when we choose to stop and swing, that work can be a lot of fun.