Placing a Call to the Universe, part 1
On an uneventful rainy summer day years ago when my kids were about 5, 8, and 10, we were all sitting around the kitchen table finishing up lunch when someone slid a plastic lid across the table. Someone else returned it with another slide. And again.
Slide - tsssssssssst. Slide back - tsssssssst. Smiles. Slide harder - TSSST. Laughter. Slide back. Slide wide, off the table and across the floor,
– tsss…. thhhhhhhhhh
Cheers all around. Before we knew it the table was cleared and we were deep in a game of lid sliding, kind of like air hockey.
The fun evolved. We tested different lids, took turns, made up rules and then changed them, and laughed and cheered wildly. The lid game became a favorite thing to do that summer. It never got overly competitive or burdened with rules and we gave everyone a lot of slack and often said “do over” or “you go again” and things like that.
It wasn’t about the score.
Neighbors played with us, adults, grandparents and kids played. It was great fun!
Jump ahead many years to this summer. I was walking on the beach with a friend enjoying an exquisite summer afternoon. We stopped to sit on a log, chatted for a few minutes and then I picked up a small stone and tossed it up in the air toward the water. It didn’t land in the water but hit a rock and ricocheted back toward us and then off another 4-5 rocks in random directions before landing.
Toc… tic tic tac…tkk.
“That was cool!” we said together.
And so of course we each picked up stones and proceeded to toss them up in an arc so they would land on the rocks and we could watch what happened next. It was beach pinball.
The stone bouncing was immensely satisfying. We cheered when a stone made more bounces than usual or a funny bounce, or split in two with both pieces dancing around before stopping.
We did this for over an hour. Just for shits and giggles. We smiled, laughed, and cheered with no other objective in mind.
Kids instinctively do things for fun. Dogs too. So if you have kids or a dog it’s easier to find yourself in the middle of some silliness and good belly laughs.
We love moments like that, right? We feel lighter.
So why, then, do we try so hard to be busy and serious all the time?
In North America, we live in a culture of busy-ness. A ‘do’ culture. We live by plans and performance objectives. We work to achieve a goal and then what do we do? Set another goal. (spoiler alert – the goals never end, we never "get there") The corporate world operates like this and the pursuit has crept into everything we do.
We live in a culture that replaces one goal with another and another without end.
We feel guilty telling someone we didn’t do anything all afternoon or that we “just had fun” – because it feels like slacking off. It feels wrong. We "should" be doing something.
How do we handle that? We set performance goals for our fun activities – we don’t just run, we train for a marathon. We don’t just wander in the woods, we power hike, track our mileage and stats and set out to make the summit. We multitask and strive to achieve even on our breaks.
We've got slogans for it - work hard — play hard.
No no no no no! It’s a trap I tell you. The “work hard play hard” story is about constant striving and achieving. There’s no room for rest in this story. It tells us that we are not worthy unless even our play is “epic.”
There’s magic in doing nothing, in wandering, in lid sliding and stone tossing. Playing is medicine for our soul. It allows our logical reasoning brain to recover.
Laughing and playing with someone frees our soul and allows it to expand without constraint in a moment of complete presence.
I remember the look of joy on my kids’ faces as they realized the lid sliding thing was not only ok, it was game on!
The same thing happened when I started a food fight at dinner one night with mashed potatoes. I distinctly remember the giddy excitement we all felt at breaking the rules and busting out. I also clearly remember the amazingly satisfying sound mashed potatoes make when they hit a wall or someone’s forehead.
What if we scheduled time for fun each day? Wrote it in our agendas.
Blocked off time to play without keeping score. Made a point of inviting our soul to expand.
Where is the space for insight or clarity when we schedule every minute of our lives, work, strive, reach, work work, live hyper focused on outcomes, and repeat constantly? Where is the space to breathe? How will we ever feel fulfilled or happy if our only focus is the goal and the goal keeps moving away?
Let’s give ourselves permission to experience the flow of presence with the universe. When we play with no expectations, just for shits and giggles, we invite the energy of all life to find us. That’s how we connect to spirit, our own and every other force of life around us.
It’s like placing a call from our soul to the universe. It says ‘I am here.’
When we do this, we open the door to who we truly are and to infinite possibility. We blow the roof off 'shoulds' and 'supposed to be's' and launch creativity and THAT is where we find happiness and clarity.