I grew up in a family where the importance of education, success, and achievement were instilled at a very early age. It was a big blessing to be artistically inclined to balance the academic motivation of getting A’s. One major blessing from my academic success was my ticket to live the life of my dreams as a professional dancer. If I hadn’t gotten a full scholarship in college: tuition, room and board, books, and meals, which also allowed me to major in any degree I desired, I would never have been allowed to receive a BFA in Dance or pursue a career as a professional dancer. Dancing professionally just wasn’t practical!
One of the most challenging choices in life can sometimes be living your dreams versus going the practical route.
Another challenge that I’ve noticed in my life is now that I’ve worked so hard to live my dreams, and my love of dance is my income, where is the fun in my life? What do I define as play anymore? Sometimes career, passion, success, family, and responsibilities can make play time very fuzzy if not obsolete.
On Wednesday I lugged out the desk my husband and I seldom used, and dropped it off at Goodwill. Getting rid of the piece of furniture symbolic for productivity was important to me. When my life is solely success driven and labor based I feel like I’m sinking. One tiny treasure that I found during decluttering my work station was a book called Play Therapy by Michael Joseph. What a beautiful reminder it was to me and quite symbolic as I rid our home of an unused cluttered desk.
“Remember: you have intrinsic value and goodness. You don’t have to prove it by ceaseless productivity.” ~Michael Joseph
I enjoyed a wonderful Thanksgiving dinner with my family yesterday. While helping to prepare dinner, I was also bombarded with all of the Black Friday shopping commercials while the game was on in the other room. One commercial in particular emphasized the rush of euphoria from shopping as well as how much fun it would be buy gifts for yourself and others for the holiday.
“Play is natural exhilaration. Don’t confuse it with shopping, eating, or artificial excitements.” ~Michael Joseph
When we replace playing with other forms of false joy, we are also suffocating our true creativity. As a small business owner creating pieces for Azuha, it is challenging to make time out just for play. I am seeing more and more that it is very very important to play. Just as when I was a child, it was my artwork and dancing that actually made my academic life richer and better. Playful creativity was my peace and sanity. Adults need abundant play and work discipline in life just as children do.
As we get older and take on more and more responsibility, we sometimes forget that our playtime actually heightens the quality of our work and our life. It brings in new energy and insights and makes our work easier to do. To only work is giving away precious life time. I’ve never watched an animal documentary where at one point play wasn’t involved.
Play is as natural as our breath!
Ambition is a beautiful quality to have. Relentless ambition and grace has gotten me to where I am today with so many amazing experiences that I would have never had otherwise. Now I’m seeing my life as so much more than achievement. I could have seen my life a bit more freely along the way, yet I just didn’t know how. Finding new ways of daily play is life enriching and truly valuable. Adults need “play dates” too!
“Play playfully. Play that has a purpose–exercise, socializing, relaxation–is a contradiction.” ~Michael Joseph
Let’s not use the holidays as our only excuse to let loose and play. I also don’t feel like the holidays need to be a reason to get stressed out and crazy either. You see more and more holiday craziness glamorized by media as the new acceptable norm. Consumerism has so much to do with that, but that’s a whole new article in itself. Honest playfulness is a quality that we need for our survival.
In what ways can you find non-commercial based play in your life today?
(Image by D Sharon Pruitt)