Play

Where is that inner child of yours?  Do you suppress the feeling to dance in the street or swirl on the sidewalk or laugh out loud at your thoughts?  Do you watch with envy adults who are obviously having a grand time being childlike during the busy work week?  I do.

I have an active inner child.  Just this weekend I wore a red clown nose through a crowded event and even driving home.  It made people smile; that’s worth it.  They also don’t know who I am; they’ll just remember some woman driving with a clown nose.  It’s a better thought and image than something negative.

Most of us would love to have our inner child take over meetings when they get soooo long, drawn out and boring.  We’d probably love to start singing right when the CFO is settling back into the 10th page of his/her report.  Instead, we sit like adults and nod as if we’re really listening, much less caring about the information.

Did you run through the sprinklers this summer?  Did you play in the rain?  Did you play with your children – or someone else’s children?  Did you explore nature with the “eyes of a child” or did you stay at home most of the time in front of the television or brooding over work that had to be done?  When was the last time you played hookey and went fishing, to a movie, stayed home with your children or partner? 

Let loose.  Let your inner child out and enjoy him/her.  Studies show that children laugh approximately 400 times a day – sometimes inappropriately mind you – while adults laugh 15 times a day – if we’re lucky.  I read an article this morning about USC’s football players actually having  fun at practice.  Can you imagine?  Do you have fun at work?  Do you play and enjoy work at the same time.

Our childhood is gone, but our childlike outlook isn’t.  It’s up to you.  Some people may find your actions crazy, bewildering or stupid if you skip down the street, but they’ll probably envy you as well.  We take ourselves oh so seriously when we really need to just let go.

Years ago – maybe 15! –  after a pleasant dinner date we drove through a park and the “children’s area”: swings, jungle gym, sliding board and seesaw. I said, “Let’s stop and swing and seesaw.”  Well, TJ said, “What?”  “You heard me, I want to go swinging.”  We did. It was magical.  The night was warm, the stars were bright and the air inviting; swinging was just the right dessert.  Then we did it all:  jumped off the jungle gym, played on the seesaw and slid down the sliding board.  What an evening!  I know I’ll never forget it…I can’t speak for TJ, but I’m certain he remembers it as well.

Think about Walt Disney.  He’s one of my heroes.  His whole life was surrounded by characters, animation, creativity, childlike vision, toys, rides, color and fantasy.  Yes, Disneyland/World is a business and the art of putting animation together for films is too, but the fun of the discovery of another fantasy land would be like winning the lottery for me.  I take my 11-year-old, next-door neighbor to animated films.  I’d go alone, and I know that he’d love to see them and so I get a buddy to go to the movies with and experience a world of make believe.  We’re both happy.

Take time to play.  Take time to act unexpectedly at the office.  Buy a stuffed animal and keep it on your desk.  When I was a PR Director at a corporation my office was the first one visitors saw when they walked down the hall to see the manager.  My desk had a bowl of candy, a fishing game and a fuss ball on it.  In one of the chairs around my “conference” table sat a two-and-a-half foot bear.  Most people walking down the hall either commented on the joy of the office, or came in for candy and to play the fishing game.  It made me smile.  I’m certain that my replacement didn’t have that childlike atmosphere in his office, and that’s okay.  It worked for me.

Have fun today.  I don’t know where you are, but here in Denver it’s cold – 50ish – and rainy.  It’s a great day to stay inside, to hunker down at my desk and accomplish a few goals.  I don’t know what I can do to play today, but before the day is through, I’ll find someone to play with, make someone smile and laugh, and smile and laugh myself – and I work alone! 

I’m meeting my women friends after work and that’s always an occasion for outrageousness and frivolity.  I hope you can find the same.

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