Tick, tock, tick, tock, allowing the sands of time to unfold into minutes, hours, days, years, reaching way back to the earliest memories that can be recollected; let us imagine that you are 5 years old again and enjoying those endless hours of playtime. When thinking of the word “playtime” what comes to mind for you? What is it that you enjoyed doing with that pure and unadulterated childlike bliss? Maybe you liked to bake or paint, collect insects, be a teacher in your classroom of dolls? Way before we knew whether we were good at something, or whether our talents and interests could make us money or gain us praise, social standing; way back then we followed our passion by the elegantly simple act of tinkering, entertaining, creating, learning with sheer delight. It is no wonder that as adults we long for those times when for most of us, things we just that simple, following ones bliss. As children most of us were free to simply enjoy what felt right and not take the time to consider what we were good at, what would pay the bills, what image we would like to portray as our life’s work, the time of innocence before road blocks and hurtles.
We explore these questions not to simply evoke the sensation of nostalgia but because our creative pleasures indicate something about our innate gifts and capacities. Each of us is born with purpose and potential and the more greatly we create a life which is aligned with the sharing of our pleasures and talents the more at peace we tend to be. Even if we have chosen a career simply for the financial opportunities we have gained we should still make time to regularly connect with that which we can become submerged in, the kind of creative play which takes our eyes off of the clocks and into our minds eye. What is that for you? For me, as young as 5 years old, I enjoyed writing, creating heaping piles of poems. What about you? Did you like to play the keyboard? Did you love to paint upon the easel? Did you enjoy playing in the kitchen and kneading dough? Did you construct toy trucks and cars? What was your passion or pleasure as a child? As adults some of us note with an air of melancholy, I have no energy, I am exhausted, I am not sure what the meaning of my life has become. If you struggle with these questions much like many others, maybe it would help to consider when did you take the time to connect with the inexhaustible wellspring of energy which is found through our passion. When we paint, draw, throw the ball around, we are not depleting our energy, we are in fact connecting with the part of our self which is bounteously full of enthusiasm and childlike joy.
It’s a wonder that any of us would ever stop doing that which has the potential to bring us such enjoyment. Often as teens and adults we begin to deviate from this kind of playfulness in search of being mindful of our time and not wasting it on that which is not useful. Some were shamed for their gifts, told by teachers of parents, “you don’t want to be ______, be educated in this, leave this behind now.” Often we are very sensitive about our talents, the most passionate are acutely in tune with the emotional world of ourselves and others. So we put away our paintbrush or drumstick and pick up our time card, marching on to the time piece of humanity. The most joyful people are often those who find a way to merge their passion into their life’s work, “The master of the art of living makes no difference between work and play, for him they are both the same.” The artists may serve as our teachers, to be like those, those who embrace an inner calling or take up hobbies in that which proffers them abundant connection with that creative part to themselves.
In tribal cultures, when a sad or anxious man or woman comes to the Shaman, the shaman will ask, “tell me my friend, so you are sick?” the tearful woman looks to the ground as she explains, “yes, yes, I am sick, I am so sad and I so often worry, I have no energy for life.”
The shaman, he brightens, “Oh, no worries, this is a problem that I understand! Tell me this my friend, when did you stop singing, when did you stop dancing? When did you stop laughing with life?”
In closing my friend, I ask of you to consider this question, if you were allowing yourself the opportunity to play, no judgement, no criticism, just melting into the opportunity to enjoy that which is amusing, that which is creative and unharnessed, that which brought you hours of entertainment as a young child, what is it that you would be doing?
In love and playfulness,
Stephanie McCracken MSPC
Nicole Monteleone MA, LPC, NCC
The Counseling and Wellness Center of Pittsburgh