Delight. You may have a hard time remembering the last time you felt it but if you had children around you during this holiday season the reminder was there over and over. Children have an innate sense of delight, which according to Webster means to take great pleasure in. Even older children can scream in delight if the moment is right, if the dream gift appears, if the surprise is grand enough. But it seems that as we get older we are less likely to be delighted by life.
My great niece Sophia is my favorite teacher. When she is around I relax. I open. I see the world differently, more from her point of view. In Sophia's view the world is awe-some. There is constantly something to explore, something new to experience. She is constantly surprised and inspired by her world. And her only real goal in life, at least when she is with me, is to play.
And so she and I play. We play at the park. We play imaginary games like finding the monster and real games like Hide-n-Seek. We play with dolls and playdoh and balls and books. Sophia's invitation to me is constant - "let's play Becky". It is beautiful to hear, impossible to ignore and every time it changes me. Playing in this way, with this girl, brings me home to my skin and my soul. I suppose children have that potential for all of us, perhaps because we have forgotten how to play and we need to be reminded.
On the journey to waking up to a bigger life my biggest road block has been taking myself too seriously. It all feels so important, and it is. But this is another place where it is true that the journey is the destination. If the work of self-improvement and a better life only lulls us back to sleep we will find ourselves back where we started only more frustrated. One of the many rest stops along the road to this life is play.
We need to detach from ourselves for a bit, stop the navel gazing, and remember why we started down this path in the first place.
When it gets hard and frustrating, and it always does, I need to hear it again - "let's play Becky". For me that literally means getting down on the floor to see the world through the eyes of a curious and amazing five year old. Sometimes it means playing a round of golf or sitting by the river by myself, or taking the kids to play laser tag (I highly recommend this one!). It doesn't matter what it is or how we play, only that we do it. This "it" Webster reminds us, is anything we do for recreation or enjoyment that has no specific purpose. The only goal in playing is the playing itself. It is unbelievable to me how good that sounds, especially when I am heavy from the work of building a bigger life.
If you are feeling it - the weariness of all of this life-building, hear the invitation. It isn't just for me. It is for all of us that need some new energy and inspiration for this journey we have committed to walking. Don't ignore it as nonsense. It is really the best possible sense. Let's play.