That’s what we asked each other every time there was a pause in our last game.
There were 3-8 of us, depending on who showed up that day. We ranged from 6-9 years old, though our differences didn’t seem to matter, except for who was most up-to-date on the latest TV show. Somehow our mid-1960s world was one of the military (“Combat,” “Branded,”) or secret agents (“The Man from U.N.C.L.E.,” “Get Smart,” and “The Mod Squad”), all of which gave us plenty of action to dramatize.
We wandered, we ranged, we played. The mountain of dirt behind a new building going up occupied us for hours, as we dug and ducked, alternating between digging an army foxhole to shoot the enemy with our toy guns, and hollering as we climbed up and dashed down the hill, sometimes rolling from top to bottom.
We dug some more in someone’s backyard, stationing our GI Joe’s (I had two) and Barbie’s (not mine, my friend Faith Brown’s). We found old lumber and built a clubhouse; we scrapped for more and created a treehouse. We may not have recognized it but this “following our noses freedom” was actually living into our essence.
I recognized that same timeless freedom a few weeks back, as my beloved Kath and I bungeed a tarp over the mud pit under our patio that had been newly undecked. (Our hot tub was leaking and awaiting repair before a predicted rainstorm.) I thought, wow, Kath would have fit right into our childhood gang of kids. This was a perfect fort to play in!
Earlier in the day, we were reminiscing about our dog Jaimie, who died when she was 17. “I guess she had a good life with us, so she didn’t want to leave,” Kath mused. I remembered Jaimie hanging in the dog wagon as we biked her around.
Then my chest tightened as another image passed across my mindscape. “I still remember her slinking out of the room as we yelled at each other.” Kath nodded sadly, as I continued. “I just didn’t know.” She squeezed my hand, and said, “Me neither.”
Want to know why I do what I do? Spend so much of my time and energy writing, videoing, talking and teaching and playing with people? Sure, I love what I’ve found that helps. I know it’s powerful, that these practices can create immediate shifts, support folks to move out of suffering. I’ve been in that pit of hell myself so many times, creating stuckness and struggle and pain through my bullheaded need to be right.
Probably an even bigger motivator than showing people a path out of suffering, though, is wanting to have more playmates. It’s that open, expanded feeling that infuses my whole body, the one I felt while racing on our bikes or tumbling down a hill, just because we were together and it was a beautiful day. Because there was absolutely nothing better than being in the flow of following whatever wanted to happen next.
* * * * * * * * *
TIPS FOR BEING A FABULOUS PLAYMATE:
- Ask “What do you want to do now??”
- Be open to the answer…and make it a “yes/and” (yes, let’s go outside; and I’d love to be in the sun.” Then you’re cocreating
- Play until you’re hungry, or tired, or feel done. Go take care of yourself, and come back when you’re ready!
So I pose these questions to you:
Want to play?
What do you want to do now??