I am an adult. Can I play?
Updated: Apr 3
Today I am traveling to England. At this moment I am watching the sunset from the airplane. It is breathtaking and makes me pause after every sentence that I write just to absorb it. Everything is orange in the sky.
I wonder...would it be possible for an airplane to travel continuously towards the sunset and one be always able to see it? That would be cool!
I love sunsets. There is something in this time of the day that brings me back home; I can enjoy plenty the present moment in which I can feel grateful for my past that brought me here and, at the same time, I can imagine with a sweet longing the infinite possibilities that the future prepares for me. I am here and now, everywhere and always, nowhere and never at the same instance.
Only now I realize, this experience is similar to how I feel when I let myself play like a child, though I am an adult. I guess that is why I want to tell you about my stopover in Vancouver.
Because I had soooooooo much fun playing with Brenna and Bryleigh, splashing in the outside public water fountains!
And when I think I could have missed it for nothing... Why?
Because I have a flight to catch and I can't be wearing wet clothes, I will freeze… but... I do happen to have a change of clothes with me. Is it just a coincidence?
Because it is too much of a story to change clothes being outside in a public space… but... there is also a public bathroom available to use just in front of the water fountains.
Because I have no plastic bag to put in the wet clothes afterward, I will make a mess… but... there is a coffee shop right next to the bathrooms, they must have a bag to give me.
Because there are no other adults playing into the fountains… but... there are two sweet girls who invite me to get wet and wetter and discover exciting ways to splash into the waters.
Because there are men sitting at the coffee shop who will see me as childish and surely not attractive… but... finally who really cares when it is about true pleasure!
So, fortunately, my excuses didn't work this time.
I played, I got wet and wetter. I laughed, I made new friends and gained a big water - hug that gives me the energy to continue my journey with joy and openness, looking forward to the surprises of the unknown and unexpected that unfortunately include the temporary loss of my baggage at my final destination… but... the journey always goes on, no matter what, playing or not. It is our choice of how we are going to live it.
Most of us may agree that play is a basic need for every child to be happy and grow healthy. I support that play is also a need for our inner child because though we may forget about it, it is always alive inside of us.
And research has shown that adults, too, have a lot to gain from the act of playing.
Play is fun and has been shown to trigger the release of endorphins, our natural feel-good chemical that can relieve pain and stress, so necessary in our non-stop lives. Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex. Play has also been shown to trigger the secretion of BDNF, a substance essential for the growth of brain cells; to improve brain functionality and boost creativity. Play can heal emotional wounds, can help develop social skills and can help improve your relationships and connection with others as it fosters empathy, compassion, trust, and intimacy. Last but not least, play can boost your vitality and help you feel young and more energetic.
As Bernard Shaw says:
“We do not stop playing because we grow old. We grow old because we stop playing.”
Our instinctual nature is to play and be creative. To play is to be curious. To play is what makes us feel alive at any age!
You can learn more about Maria Lentzou, AMFT, and her work at www.marialentzou.net