You’ve heard the saying, “you’re never too old to have a happy childhood”? Well, I can attest to that. I didn’t have a hugely playful or happy childhood. My parents had a lot of trouble with my two sister’s mental instability and their own illnesses as well. Consequently it made me grow up quickly. I felt a sense of responsibility and need to please and function for my family in hopes that it would make them happy and in turn my life easier. Then as a young adult I was in a long-term relationship where I repeated what I had learned growing up. Relationships were about struggle, tension and duty; not love, joy and growth. It was the only relationship I knew how to create for myself. Then after years of trying to fix, change and care for others I shifted. I learned that my own self-care was my only hope for happiness and that (I know you’ve heard it before) you cannot change anyone except yourself.
My biggest gift to myself was learning how to play. It was the beginning of a spontaneous life and it nurtured me. I used to have such issues with the idea of play, let alone the reality of it. But with constant “silliness”, Bobby broke me into a long-term habit of finding fun and adventure in most everything I do.
To me play is part of adventure. Play is an attitude of letting go, and freedom. Finally it is about passionate curiosity in your surroundings. So throw out your schedule and it’s time limits and take off in directions that challenge your sense of structure. Structure is fine at home but there is no place for it on an adventure.
Road trips are one of the things that taught me more about letting go than anything else. We often take off with our packed cooler, camp-gear filled Mini on a Friday, heading north with the idea that a mountain town is possibly our destination but along the way we allow ourselves to veer off course, (those of you that have trouble with that please know that I did too). I have now learned to expect a picnic off a deserted road in a forest. I never know whether we will stay for hours or minutes , as it depends on the amount of fun we are having. We might climb trees, jump into streams or boulder at the base of a mountain range. Leaving my rules and expectations behind, I am met with a sense of childlike curiosity and accomplishment. Sometimes catapulting down a steep shale mountainside makes my heart beat hard but the end result is my ear-to-ear smiling grin and a sense of freedom.
Now at 54 I am a childlike adventurer and I am proud of it!
Play and adventure is where I feel at home. Most times to me they are one in the same and going out to play is an adventure. It's about going out beyond our unconscious limitations. Human beings want to feel alive! It is this aliveness that gives us a purpose. Adventure pushes us outside what we think we're capable of, outside of whom we believe we are, and we become infinitely more than that.
You don't have to stop playing or disown that integral part that keeps you young. It's a choice we all have and part of our true nature. So go out and play! Visit the national parks, the mountains, deserts, oceans, lakes and rivers because you can. Climbing is play and adventure for me. Mariel and I are fortunate enough to get out to climb quite often. Road tripping through the Sierra in California is something I get to do and have been doing for 25 yrs. It’s a place where wonder and awe are a way of life. A place to play in the great outdoors! Find out what you love, what moves you and do it!
I love this place called Earth; there aren't enough hours in the day to see all there is to see. The great news is I get to do it again tomorrow. Go out in nature. Nature is a great metaphor for life because nature is never ending and always beginning.
1. Find your adventure (find the thing that helps you step out of your comfort zone)
2. Figure out why you stopped playing in the first and give yourself permission to begin again.
3. The only thing you need to schedule in a playful adventure is the date. So set it and keep it. It may be uncomfortable at first but you’ll get used to it.
Go out and Play. Create Adventure!