Wednesday, May 27, 2009

How Not to be Playful

Here's a funny thing: on Monday, a holiday, and a beautiful day at that, as I was holding in mind the idea of starting this "learning to play" blog, I got into a funk in which I was most unplayful toward myself! 

While my neighbors took turns napping on their new back deck (we see backyard to backyard), I totally ignored my own advice and wisdom and broke my own rules. Especially rule #3, which says: "Don't push too hard." Which, while written about the blogging process, really applies to just about everything, right?

Nooooo. Not for me on Monday. So now I have to follow rule #1 and be gutsy and honest about it.

I really wanted just to sit lazily in the sun, maybe even just doze off in a chair, but the old slave-driver, high-achiever, never-good-enough part of me just wouldn't have it. First I made myself plant some seedlings in our tiny vegetable patch, because on such a gorgeous day, someone who says she loves gardening (that would be me) should want to be gardening, not dozing off in the sun.

Then--this gets pretty humiliating to admit--I reconciled the bank statement, never a favorite job, because I figured (I can't say I "reasoned") I was already in a bad mood, so why not go ahead and ride the black wave and deal with finances?! (Unspoken thought: why waste a good mood on reconciling the bank statement?) How's that for positive thinking about money?

I can't quite remember what I did to my poor self after that, and it's probably just as well. The strange and totally embarrassing thing is that I knew what I was doing every step of the way; I knew I had a choice; I knew I could try to think of something gentler, kinder, more fun or playful or just plain relaxing to do. But no, I just kept right on pushing, pushing, pushing. And punishing, punishing, punishing.

And then of course there was the internal voice that started playing: "Learning to play, huh? So you think you're an expert on playing, eh, and you spend your holiday doing this? Who's going to want to read your blog, anyway? Blah, blah, blah. Bash, bash, bash."

By the time I crawled upstairs to bed like a demoralized war refugee, I scribbled a little note in my gratitude journal ("gratties" for short) as I recalled what I'd done to myself during the afternoon: "What was that all about?"

What's amazing is that I actually decided to start this blog the very next day. Maybe as an act of defiance of the old slave-driver, high-achiever, never-good-enough part of me; maybe as an act of deep and heartfelt hope and faith that I won't go down that road again too, too soon. Maybe also as an act of gratitude that learning to play doesn't mean being an expert, and you always get to start over. Playfully. And when you screw up, it just gives you something to blog about.


  1. Beautiful. You nailed it. Why do we push and punish over and over? That was your lesson, huh? You had one more reminder of your need to be more playful, to not push too hard...lesson over, right? Now the play can begin. Great lesson for US ALL.

  2. Well, I' d love to think the lesson was over, but...we know how that goes! Just maybe I'll catch on a little bit sooner the next time, and the next, until I really do know better!