Child’s play….

I went on vacation last week. I know, this doesn’t sound like earth shattering news or a life altering event, but it was for me. I haven’t had a vacation in six years. The reasons aren’t important. Let’s just say that personal responsibilities were a priority. During that time I had to leave my practice for weeks on end. Afterward, all my time, energy and effort was directed into rebuilding my practice. If you’re self employed, you know what I mean.

Vacations were a distant memory, and I wondered if I would ever see a beach again. Then my youngest sister invited us to go on vacation with her and her family. I hesitated, but she said, “Aww, come on! You really need it.” It sounded like a good idea, but I worried about being away from work for that long. I’m so used to continuous hard work, sitting on a beach for a week seemed like the epitome of self indulgence. I was afraid I’d be bored.

I wasn’t bored, I was busy doing something that I hadn’t done in a long time. I played, and I played all day long, like I did when I was a kid, with no goal or objective in sight. I played everywhere, and I played with everyone, including my niece, nephew, sister, brother-in-law and my husband. I even tried playing with a sand crab, but he wouldn’t cooperate. Party pooper. No wonder why they call them crabs.

We played in the ocean, in the pool, on the beach and in the sand. We played Ninja games and paddle board. I stopped playing when it came time for football and volleyball. That’s where I draw a line in the sand, so to speak. I’m just not that kind of athlete. I challenged my niece and sister to a cartwheel competition. My niece taught me how to do a round-off, and I practiced handsprings in the sand. I failed miserably, but that’s not the point.

On the other hand, maybe that is the point. Like most of us, I had forgotten how to play. We lose that part of ourselves and our spirit of playfulness in the world of adult responsibilities. My sister was right. I really needed that vacation. Not only was it fun, relaxing, but a huge learning experience for me.

During that week, I learned how to play again, without any goal or objective, but for the sheer joy of movement and self discovery. I learned that I still don’t have to play football and volleyball to be a good playmate. I learned that sand crabs have really funny faces, but they make rotten playmates. I also learned that it’s important to listen to a younger sibling, because sometimes they are smarter than you think and they know you better than you know yourself.

I’m looking forward to the next vacation. But, in the meantime, my handsprings can use some work. Ooops, I mean play.

Be healthy, and playful!
Cheryl Ilov, PT, GCFP