The Power of Play

Posted on Posted in About the book, Healing, Life management, Philosophy

Ferris Wheel On Santa Monica Pier
Ferris Wheel Santa Monica Pier at dusk, Photo by Carol Woodliff

Yesterday I sat looking at the long list of things I had to do.  Many items were about my book From Scared to Sacred: Lessons in Learning to Dance with Life.  I am very passionate about helping the book find its way in the world.  Like an obsessed stage mother my thoughts repeating like mantras pushed at me to work harder: “I can’t slow down. There is too much to do! I need to keep working.  Make the phone call. Write the article.”  My energy dwindled caught under the “serious” burden of “should’s” and “have to’s.” Checking off an item on my list gave me a momentary sense of accomplishment and control but soon my “doer” self had added several more items to the list.  I had worked most of the holiday weekend.  I was tired and cranky.  I’d been in this place many times in my life.

Fortunately I have learned something over the last few years:  when I get to the point where it feels like I’m whipping the old nag horse trying to get her to move forward, I know I need to switch tactics.  I closed the computer and did something that would seem counter-intuitive when the “to do” is long–I got in the car and headed for Santa Monica where I took the afternoon off, saw a movie and then walked along the ocean and down the pier to watch the sunset.  I came home feeling much better.  I had filled myself back up instead of pushing while running on empty.

In From Scared to Sacred there is a passage from The Voice that says “In resisting your capacity for joy now in search of some far-off idea of perfection, you live in the idea of “what is supposed to be” and ignore the beauty that is now. Stop trying so hard to get it right and enjoy the ride. Laugh, sing, dance and play.”

I enjoyed the beauty that was “now” at the ocean–watching the sunset from the end of the pier with the wind in my hair. Turning around and seeing the Ferris wheel lights going. For an hour or so there was no “to do” list only the smell of the ocean air and the beauty of the changing light. Refreshed, I vowed to give myself more of those moments. I reminded myself that I didn’t want to get so busy working, even if it was working on something that I was passionate about, that I forgot to play and experience the simple joys in life.

Sunset Santa Monica
Sunset Santa Monica, CA. Photo by Carol Woodliff

Our language about play often implies that it is frivolous, rather than essential. We get caught in “work” mode and sometimes it takes stepping away to remember how rejuvenating play is. Why did we stop spontaneously skipping, dancing in the rain or creating art simply for the joy of it?  Maybe we stopped because someone told us we needed to get serious and stop messing around.  I’m pretty sure that we would all be healthier if play were a more integral part of our lives.

There is something else that happens when we allow ourselves to do the things that we love:  we raise our vibration and we become more attractive both to others and to opportunities.  Again and again I have found when I take a break to do something I love simply for the joy of doing it, surprising synchronicities show up in other areas of my life. So this is my challenge to myself and to you, let’s remember the power of play, the power of joy, the power of listening to our hearts. This is the energy that refreshes and fuels us.

Where is play in your life? Are you driven by your “to do” list? Does the idea of doing something simply because it is fun seem foreign to you? When is the last time you took yourself out to play? What did you do?  I can’t wait to hear your experiences and opinions.

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