Thursday, January 1, 2015

Play That Funky Music, Play Ball, Played Out-It's All About the Play

It is the first day of 2015.  We didn't officially stay up to welcome the year but our neighbors did and there was that brief moment when the fireworks had more intensity to them from the constant rhythm and noise of the early evening.  I knew then it must be midnight and looking over at the clock confirmed that.  Even Buddy, who ignores so much, was a bit perturbed at the noise.  I'm sure there are some leftover fireworks that will go off tonight.  That's fine, but it was too bad that it was a tad cold to stand outside last night and watch the beautiful 360 of skies lit up with color and sound.  On a side note, all the American Hero Chanel watching has made me a little nervous when you hear the whistle sound of a firecracker because it sounds like those bombs in WWII.

Ours was an early January 1st because Chris came today to clean the house.  Roy got to experience Chris...  She came about 7:30 and we were out and about by 7:45.  I would at this time like to register my complaint about the discrimination of establishments against those of us who stayed in, didn't get drunk and have to get up early because the housekeeper is comes early on January 1st.  Only Target and Home Goods opened at their normal times.  So, Roy and I sat in the car waiting for Black Walnut to open.  We had breakfast and then made a Target and Home Goods run.  Wow, New Year's Day early is the time to go to both stores.  We might have been the only people in Home Goods for about fifteen minutes.  Then we drove over to Barnes and Noble and waited because they didn't open until 11:00.  Roy and I kind of have a New Year tradition, we go to a bookstore.  It may seem like we go to bookstores everyday, but really, that is not the case.  Roy was hungry after all that shopping and since he only had an omelet for breakfast, we did the old people thing and went to Luby's for lunch and for free black eyed peas.  Yum yum!  Chris was still here when we got home but she had pretty much finished up.  We then settled in to watch the Baylor game...I can't even comment, really.  This is the second football bowl game I have invested time and emotions in, the other being LSU, where the other teams wins in the final seconds.

The popular quote of this new year is;“Tomorrow, is the first blank page of a 365 page book. Write a good one.” 
― Brad Paisley

That's all fine and good but today is a fly page of a book day for me, so the real writing doesn't begin until after another few pages, title page, copyright page, dedication page and preface.  

This is the third year I am participating in the One Word Can Change Your Life thing.  Yes, thing is the best word I could think of right now but thing is not my word for the year.  I shared that proceed and persevere were my words for the last two years and this year is another P word....My word for 2015 is Play.  Now I know some of you more serious folks are thinking, uh yea, Nancy, don't you play everyday?  Isn't it kind of your lifestyle to play?  No.  Play has come to mean something frivolous in our culture and when I first heard this word deep in my spirit after praying and thinking the word for the year thing, I kind of thought the same thing to.  But, I began doing some research and although the word play doesn't carry a heavy, deep, meaningful thing on the surface, the roots of play are deep in creativity, wisdom and finding solutions to problems.  

 According to the National Institute, play is the gateway to vitality.  By its nature it is uniquely and intrinsically rewarding. It generates optimism, seeks out novelty, makes perseverance fun, leads to mastery, gives the immune system a bounce, fosters empathy and promotes a sense of belonging and community. Each of these play by-products are indices of personal health, and their shortage predicts impending health problems and personal fragility.

We live in a culture obsessed with wringing an external result from everything we do. Play doesn't operate on that metric. It's not about the end but the experience. This has made play one of the last remaining taboos, an irrational deviation from gainful obligation. What we don't realize, though, is that it's precisely the lack of a quantifiable result that allows play to tap a more meaningful place that satisfies core needs and reveals the authentic person behind the masks of job and society.
Anthropologist Gregory Bateson believed that the fixation on making everything productive and rational cuts us off from the world of the spontaneous that is home to real knowledge. Wisdom, Bateson believed, is to be found in the realms outside intentionality, in the inner reaches of art, expression and religion. "The whole culture is suffering from overconscious intentionality, overseriousness, overemphasis on productivity and work," psychologist and cultural explorer Bradford Keeney told me. "We've forgotten that the whole picture requires a dance between leisure and work."
Play brings you back to life -- your life. "Adults need to play because so much of our life is utilitarian, the University of South Alabama's Catherine O'Keefe explained to me. "We need to reconnect with the things of our lives that ground us in who we really are and why we like our lives."
Grownups aren't supposed to play. We have problems. We're too busy. We have important things to do. It turns out, though, that there are few things more important to your happiness than frequent doses of play. As a study led by Princeton researcher Alan Krueger found, of all the things on the planet, we're at our happiest when we're involved in engaging leisure activities. Why not do more of that?

Those are some powerful quotes.  Some of the smartest people who've lived and did great things took time to play, have a playful attitude and have fun.  Now you might be thinking, well the Bible doesn't say anything on playing...well, you have to look between the lines because there is some funny stuff in the Bible, of course there is more serious stuff, but my word for the year is not serious.  Well, I am serious about my one word which if this run on sentence hasn't totally bored you or wiped out your memory, the one word for me is play.  

I'm excited about the materials I have gathered to give me a jump start in this endeavor and to give me things to ponder and meditate upon, of course with the Bible.  You see, I want to be as creative as God has made me.  I want Him to use me to help others who have a problem with having fun without feeling guilty about it.  

Play keeps you young.  Stuart Brown, psychiatrist says, "those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor."  This makes me think of Peggy.  She is fun, her house is fun, her lake is fun and any time you spend with her is fun.  Does Peggy get tired?  Does Peggy want to catch up on sleep?  Does Peggy prize an uncluttered home over fun and memories for any and all who enter?  Peggy doesn't chide or lecture...well she can but for the most part that is not her default mode.  In her fun there is a constant, maybe jumping off the roof isn't that smart of an idea or she might wonder how many children can fit on a raft behind the jet ski at one time?  And in the midst of all this fun I have seen more godly acts and generosity.  I have seen spiritual wisdom, love and compassion.   Sacrifices on her part for the help of another.  She doesn't fit the mold of what most people think that looks like but I want to be Peggy when I grow up.  

So 2015, whatever comes, my one word is play.  I'm not a play-er and I ain't playing but I look forward to learning everything that God has for me in the arena of play.  

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