I've kind of always bristled at the idea of play as an adult. It just feels kind of forced. But if I'm being honest, and not getting caught in the semantics of it, I know somewhere in me that I've lost that part of myself. I haven't been working those muscles for years and I think I've forgotten what it feels like.
One of the things I had to learn when I started running, ironically, was how to rest. And boy did I resist it. I remember my coach and I having a come-to-Jesus conversation and he insisted (demanded! ordered!) that I take 10 days off--no gym, no running, no tracking, no nothing. I had so felt like I had been pulled from the brink by my running life that I did not want to do that. Although it wasn't a conscious thought I am sure I thought the whole thing would crumble into dust if I didn't stay on it. He had to coach me through the rest period, even--what to expect, how I might feel...And, not surprisingly, at the end of the rest period not only was my running life in tact, I was stronger and clearer and really ready to get back to work. Now I'm a rest convert and I behave like one--it's non negotiable and we plan it into my week, my training cycle, and my year.
Well I think play (bristle, bristle) is a sister to rest. And she wants to get her due. But for me, work is play; it's fun! I enjoy doing dishes, raking leaves, and hanging clothes on the line. There is nothing more satisfying to me than sitting down with a cup of coffee and surveying my little kingdom after I've dusted and vacuumed and washed the floors. And my favorite thing in the world is the prepartion for and clean up after Thanksgiving dinner. Even so, I will concede that I could use a broader definition of play.
I don't quite know how to engage play yet; I feel a bit like a kid on the edge of the playground watching the other kids have fun. But I'll figure it out. And I think I'll start with running. I love the Carl Jung quote that says The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect, but by the play instinct. My mind has been my biggest, most formidable obstacle in my running, and I have had no success applying intellect to that problem. I want to create something new in my running--my mind is making it very hard--so I think I should give play a try, whatever that might mean.
Play might just be what I've been looking for.