A couple of months ago a dear friend of mine introduced me to a woman by the name of Staci Lee Kennelly. She’s a film photographer and blogger who he had been following via Instagram for some time. As soon as I “met” her (via social media), I sensed that our writing and spirit were in some ways, one in the same. So, naturally, after creeping some of her work, and getting a glimpse into her philosophy of life, I quickly saw someone’s journey that I wanted to know about.
After a few messages back and forth, she generously asked if writing more consistently together would be something I would devote myself to. To have each other as a bit of accountability in the process. Of course I agreed (not hiding my excitement well at all) and thus here we are. You can find her info at the end of this post, and her own thoughts on “Play”.
Alright, here we go.
It occurred to me recently, that a lot of the time I see the world not as a playground, but as a war zone. Where every decision hinges upon my “certainty” that I can’t choose wrong, and thus cause a disaster around me, or even implode for that matter. Dramatic as that may sound, it really has been part of the internal foundation from which I live.
Being a person of faith, and one who holds spirituality very near and dear, you would think that seeing the world as a playground would come naturally. However, I don’t think that’s the case for many of us, especially those who practice from a faith tradition. Our views, even our unconscious views of God, shape the way we live our lives whether we are aware of it or not. But then there come moments where some of those views surface and you realize, “Good gracious, is that how I see the world?“. And so, we are invited to confront those paradigms.
If you know me, you will know that I take the world and myself quite seriously. I don’t think this is a bad thing, it’s just part of who I am. But, like every strength, there comes a shadow side. As I grow and learn what it means to be more integrated and whole, the more I hear the child in me screaming for her little voice to be heard, subtly, and sometimes not so subtly, reminding me of the importance for play, lightness and risk. I’m not suggesting that we shouldn’t honour the hardship, and struggle in which life brings; but I do believe there are ways for us to engage in the world around us and within us with more grace, beauty and kindness. We don’t hold this all together anyway. Why carry such self-imposed weight?
British philosopher and writer, Alan Watts writes
“This is the secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
What if everything we do, everything we work for, who we are in relationship with, where we live, how and what we create, how we raise our kids and pay our bills, are all asking us to play just a little more with them, to enjoy them. What if they, and God through them, are asking us to laugh at our failings and our “not having a clue”, instead of walking with our heads hung low in shame or embarrassment. What if redemption really is that good…
I am not around children nearly as much as I used to be, but in many ways I think they teach us more about a “good pace” in life rather than all of our to do lists and restrictions. They remind us how to walk a little more lightly. That sometimes life is full of crawling, tip-toeing, climbing and falling, or climbing and building something. That dishes piling in the sink isn’t the end of the world, and the laughter of friends in the park is, often, the more important of the two.
So, how can you be more playful in your life? How can you be more lighthearted with yourself, with your family or your spouse? How can you start to see your work, your chores, and creativity more as invitations for enjoyment rather than pure duty?
A quote from the brilliant and witty G.K Chesterton, who seems to say these things better than most:
“Because children have abounding vitality, because they are in spirit fierce and free, therefore they want things repeated and unchanged. They always say, ‘Do it again’; and the grown-up person does it again until he is nearly dead. For grown-up people are not strong enough to exult in monotony. But perhaps God is strong enough to exult in monotony. It is possible that God says every morning, ‘Do it again’ to the sun; and every evening, ‘Do it again’ to the moon. It may not be automatic necessity that makes all daisies alike; it may be that God makes every daisy separately, but has never got tired of making them. It may be that He has the eternal appetite of infancy; for we have sinned and grown old, and our Father is younger than we.”
I have collaborated with the wonderful Staci Lee Kennelly in some of these writing projects. Please do check out her work here:
https://alifedeveloping.org and follow her on Instagram at stacileekennelly