Have you ever been around a group of kids when something – anything – is being handed out?
Have you ever seen all their little arms go up and their exuberant voiced ring out, “Me, Me, Me! Pick me! Pick me! Pick meeee!”?
Do you remember being a kid and doing the same thing?
Children don’t hide their enthusiasm and excitement the same way adults do.
Somewhere between childhood and adulthood we learned to temper our excitement and enthusiasm for life, trading it in for level-headedness, responsibility, and the expectation to never look foolish.
But try taking yourself back to a moment in your childhood when you felt wild with excitement. It could have been something big like going on a plane ride or to Disneyland or a slumber party. It could have been more subtle like a teacher asking for a volunteer at the front of the class or getting the exact thing you wanted on your birthday.
For most of us we didn’t have idyllic childhoods full of sugar and spice and everything nice, but even in the worst of circumstances children find joy and excitement in the smallest of things.
Do you remember becoming completely lost in play with a certain toy? Or mesmerized by the shininess of an object? Do you remember being so enthralled with your makeshift outdoor hideout that even now you feel that burst of excitement and joy just thinking about it?
What if I suggested you were meant to carry that excitement, wonder, and enthusiasm into your adult life?
I was watching a movie the other night and there was a video montage scene where a mother, father and child spent an afternoon at the arcade. It was an idyllic scene that would make any parent feel like a failure.
However, as I was watching the movie family play air hockey I was struck with nostalgic excitement. I love air hockey! When was the last time I played air hockey?
We’ve been to pizza parlors several times this past year, and air hockey, along with many more of my favorite arcade games, were there, but I sent the kids off to play while I boringly sat on the sidelines stuffing my face with pizza and counting the minutes until I could go home and do something more “adult”, like watch a movie and drink a glass of wine.
But I don’t need to watch more movies or drink more wine.
I need to play more air hockey.
My soul is dying to have a good time – to feel the exuberance of running down the beach or dancing with my kids in the living room or playing my favorite arcade game.
We are meant to play, and not just as children, but for our whole lives.
Play is good for the soul. It lifts us up and brings laughter and levity to life.
As adults, life can get serious and difficult. Play relieves stress. Perhaps we shouldn’t view our childhood playtime as days gone by but as a deeply ingrained practice we were meant to carry with us into adulthood.
As children, playing was our greatest natural talent. It was our first and only priority.
We were masters at living in the moment and finding joy in most any circumstance.
Your childhood playtime was practice for the future. It’s not something to abandon once you grow up. It’s meant to stay with you, as your earliest teacher and guide for life.
“Play, play, play” is the call of your soul. Take delight in life and call upon your inner child to help you reconnect with your excitement and enthusiasm for life.
Your ability to play, find magic, and engage in a sense of wonder was born the moment you entered this world. It is one of your first and most important traits.
So take time today to ask your inner child, what do you want to do today?
Maybe you want to finger paint or play in the kitchen or take a nap or build a fort or tromp through the woods. Maybe you want to go to the movies or the bowling alley or the arcade. Maybe you want to go swimming or wear all your favorite things at once even though they don’t match.
Ask, and the answers will come; followed swiftly by the excitement of thinking about it and the joy you find doing it. Don’t stand on the sidelines.