Whether we want it to, or not. Whether we welcome it, or not. Whether we celebrate it, or not. Aging happens. ‘Growing old’ is different. Growing old is more than chronology. Growing old is about attitude and is about play. When we stop playing, we stop delighting in life; we stop being hopeful; we become old. While I may be chronologically aging and my body may be showing its age, I refuse to grow old. Play is my middle name – even if it’s only a few minutes each day.
Some days are more difficult to include a play-filled activity than other days. But I make a conscious effort. I remember one of those more difficult days. There was no rational explanation. The sadness and profound sense of loss was there … big time. I could feel the waves of grief tumble and erupt. I could feel my body experiencing the loss of my husband in an overwhelming sense of exhaustion. I decided to head outdoors and take a short walk around the block.
On my little walk I encountered a little girl. She was singing a familiar melody while she walked her dog and I began to hum the melody. It was my ‘play’ for the day! It was just a few seconds. But it was play and I felt a hint of joy as the tears tumbled down my face because I wanted to tell my husband about this lovely encounter. Then as I walked back home, a smile began to form on my face … because I did tell him. 🙂
When we play, joy begins to emerge. Whether we are encountering a familiar melody sung by a little girl walking her dog, (or dancing, or doodling, or engaging in board games, or strolling along the beach, or playing bridge, or are involved in a sport, or interacting on the internet, or playing an instrument, or sharing a meal with a friend, or creating something (be that a handmade card, a tool shed, a dress, a poem, a painting, a piece of calligraphy, a meal, a book, a piece of pottery, a magazine article, a garden, a computer program, a piece of sculpture, a photograph, a mandala, a scrapbook, a bookcase … whatever!), we begin to realize that there is still life within us, hope emerges, and joy has space to flower.
There is such wisdom in the words of George Bernard Shaw: “We don’t stop playing because we’re old. We grow old because we stop playing.” The photo was taken several years ago when I surprised my husband, Hans, with a ride on a Zodiac boat. He loved it!!! While that’s not exactly the word I would use to describe the zodiac-experience, he was having such fun, even when the rain started, even when the wind picked up, and even when the storm quickly arrived, how could I not delight in his delight? A spirituality of play has many ways to surface for the young and those who are aging!