Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Choosing This And Not That

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing."  -  George Bernard Shaw

"The opposite of play isn't work.  It is depression." - Brian Sutton-Smith

I came across some interesting quotes in the course of my day today. Both of them referenced play.  I found it interested to see play described as being the opposite of depression. If this is indeed true the 'cure' for depression would be making time for enough play in your life...and then actually playing. So much of the journey of learning to live a healthy life is creating and maintaining balance between the different spheres of our lives.

If it is true that play and depression are opposites it would seem to follow that children who do not play enough in their earliest developmental years may find themselves at greater risk of depression in their adolescence and adulthood. Some of my past life history thus far would seem to serve as an example that this is true. To fail to develop healthy skills in play is, quite possibly, a greater tragedy than many of us yet realize.  I haven't read a lot from the literature on human development and play but what I have read has convinced me that play is indeed a vital part of a healthy life.

So what happens when play, joy and light-heartedness are insufficiently frequent elements of a life for many years at a time? It seems a person who fails to play enough may unconsciously walk down a path that may feature potential crisis later on due to this imbalance. My life seems to serve as an example. I became burned out due primarily to the imbalance that long persisted in my life. I gave too much to others in comparison to what I gave to myself. Some might call such a person a 'reckless giver'. I saw that term recently somewhere. I can't recall where now. Imbalances, however, can indeed be corrected.

I don't know that I am going to mature very gracefully if I don't continue to attend to this longstanding imbalance.  I was reminded of this by what I felt inside when I found a brochure today about a retreat offered in California.  The retreat is offered by Mosaic Voices and is described as "A Mentoring Retreat for Younger and Older Men".  As I contemplated the phrase I found myself asking myself 'where do I fit in this?'  And I could not see myself in it easily.  I do not really identify as a younger or older man.  I suppose I am somewhere in the middle.  But I do not wish to identify as being middle-aged.  I don't like the connotation of that term.

I know I resist my inevitable movement in the direction of one day being an older man because I feel that I missed out on so much when I was a 'younger' man. I feel an immense sadness when I consider what I feel I missed out on. I deal with this sadness on a daily basis. And there is no easy 'cure' for it.

Because I didn't perceive the world very clearly for some thirty years it is taking a while to adjust to a new life featuring a healthy perception of the world. I am grateful for my new life. But even healthy change is sometimes quite difficult.


I have lived long enough and experienced so much loss and disappointment that I have become keenly aware of the implications of the choices I make. By choosing one option I am effectively not choosing a number of other possibilities. By choosing to stay in I am effectively choosing to not go out. By choosing to read I am choosing not to lay out on the beach, have coffee with a friend, paint, write or any number of other things. What we choose says a lot about who we are. So does what we do not choose.

Is it possible to do everything we can imagine doing? That isn't likely. Can we accomplish a lot with our lives? Yes. But each day we live we are choosing the ultimate course our lives are taking. So choose carefully. But have fun along the way as well. This is the challenge before me now: Choosing wisely but also making time to be completely carefree.

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