When I Play

I love to read. When given the opportunity to sit with a favorite book, I will forget to eat and fail to sleep just to keep reading. Growing up, I checked out stacks of books from the library and then spent blissful days of summer vacation getting lost in them. Yet, somewhere along the way, as I have grown older and my responsibilities have increased, I find that I sometimes go weeks or even months without reading a book despite my continued love of them. I comment about lacking enough time, and part of that is accurate. Reading endlessly for twelve hours with a young child is not a realistic expectation. However, does that mean I should not make time to read at all? I once heard a saying, and I do not know where it originated, that people often overestimate what they can do in a day and underestimate what they can do in a year.

We visit the library about twice a week and check out piles of books for our young son. We spend wonderful times reading him stacks of stories. However, I rarely check out a book for myself. Only recently did I realize the message I tell myself – I am an adult, and I had my chance at learning, stories, and adventure. I think I am wrong. At what age do play and passion fail to be important? If life is simply a list of never-ending tasks, then what is the point? Yes, dinners still need to be cooked, laundry must be washed, and jobs duties must be fulfilled. But, why put my own humanity at the end of to-do lists that endlessly revolve? I find time for exercise because someone somewhere says it is important and healthy. I read articles and blogs about finding balance, but I feel I still spend a lot of time tripping and stumbling through life. I listen to experts, articles, and opinions, but I often fail to listen to the voice inside of me. I want to read. Why? What goal will I accomplish? What is the point? The point is – there is no point. This is my play, my love, my passion, me.

This week, I unintentionally tried something different. When we visited the library a few days ago, I checked out a book. I had not thought about it beforehand. I simply walked past a shelf on the way out, and the title caught my eye. I picked up the book, read the back cover, put it back, walked two steps, and turned around to take it with me while internally berating myself that the book will sit on my nightstand unopened until it is due as evidence of some other project I failed to complete. That night, I sat down in bed, picked up my phone, and started scrolling through social media. I looked away from the screen for a minute and saw the book on the nightstand next to me. I realized I had not intentionally looked for my phone and had no interest in social media at that moment. Really, how much changed since the last time I looked at my phone? I turned off my phone and picked up the book. I finished reading it last night.

Reading this book fulfilled no goal of mine, and it did not check items off my to-do list. It did not further my education, my career, or my knowledge of how to be a good, capable parent. I simply enjoyed it. I played – in my own way. I listened to the voice inside of me. I feel like I received a wonderful gift, and I smile thinking about it.

What is your play? When will you allow yourself to next enjoy it? As for me, the next book is waiting for me.

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