So, I have been focusing on re-learning how to play. Maybe I have been practicing a little too much, because I haven’t written in over a week!?!?
If you were to look at my life from the outside, it would be hard to make a case that I don’t know how to play. In the past couple years I have travelled to Paris, Hawaii, California, Las Vegas, Missouri and Michigan (hey, it’s not Illinois, so those last two still count!). I have gone to concerts, sat poolside at friend’s houses and made day trips to shop in St. Louis and Chicago. I’ve attended plays, laughed myself silly at a Seinfeld show and hosted numbers of girls-only patio parties and dinners around my dining room table. To an outsider, this might seem like evidence that I haven’t forgotten everything about how to play.
Playing is not just about being present at the activity, it’s about being present in the activity. Big difference.
I have been thinking about this word “in” and how it relates to play. My mind keeps going to baseball terminology. Even if you are not a baseball fan, you probably understand the basics enough to track with me for the next couple paragraphs.
Baseball is a game that people play (I know…profound insight, H). For the purpose of this blog, let’s pretend you are the ball. I think it’s fair to say that ball is a crucial part of the baseball experience. But the ball has a job to do in order for the game to be played. It can’t just lay on the pitching mound or in the dugout or sit in the 2nd baseman’s mitt. It has to be an active participant. The ball has to be “in play”. If a player hits it outside the lines into foul territory, it is considered “out of play”. Don’t you just love it? What a perfect metaphor for how we must play! It’s not enough to just show up for the activity. We have to be present and engaged in it. We have to be “in play”, otherwise the game is not fun. It’s not exciting. It is not fulfilling its purpose. So much of the time, I am attending the game but I am not “in play”.
In Recovery, we remind ourselves to “keep our head with our hands.” It means that we remind ourselves to keep our mind where our body is. To focus our attention and love and laughter on the current moment without letting our brain wander off, rehashing what happened yesterday or worrying about what will happen next week. I have participated in many “play-full” activities over the past few years, but too often have been outwardly present while inwardly “out of play”.
It’s not complicated. I can probably just shut up now. You get the gist. Again–being at vs being in…Two tiny words. At. In. But whichever one you choose to embrace will either inhibit or enhance your ability to play.
One last thought on the baseball front…
You remember what they call a ball when it is “out of play” right? “Dead”.
But thank God the opposite is also true.
Only when you are “in play” can you be “live” and get your game on.