Just Play (part 3 of 4)

So after taking some good time off for the holiday’s and then trying to catch my breath after a busy start to the new year I’m finally back at this again…

If I’m gonna talk about play I have to talk about what keeps us from playing. I do know this – all four of our boys came into this world and didn’t have to be taught how to play. It was part of their DNA. So when does that change? How does that change? How does that get robbed from us?

My friend Ken asked me a few years ago, “when was the last time you were running at full speed, tripped and face planted into concrete?” He had been running late for the bus earlier that morning and out of desperation sort of forgot himself and in a full sprint, arms full of books went from running to flying. Straight into the sidewalk. When he asked me I couldn’t remember the last time something like this had happened to me. But my youngest son still does this type of thing on a fairly regular basis. And its not that he’s clumsy. He is just in a really beautiful way more un-self-aware, fearless and free than I am.

So what makes us so self-conscious and robs us from playing?

It’s about a bunch of different things for sure – like fear and wounds from our past – but I would argue its primarily about one thing …. SHAME. Shame steals our face. Our eyes. Our presence. Our joy. The freedom to dance and sing. It keeps us from being truly liberated in our sexuality, body and nakedness. It absolutely destroys our capacity for intimate connection with others. Shame steals our freedom to just play. Shame makes us careful and self conscious/aware of what other’s think. We move from being comfortable in our own skin to spending our days trying not to look like a fool. And shame is one of the most critical weapons of the kingdom of darkness.

Four years ago I took our second son Lars to Winter Park for the weekend. Right after he got out of school on Friday we headed west. Just the two of us. We had been planning this weekend trip literally for months. We had a room in a nice lodge saved, dinner reservations at Deno’s Mountain Bistro. Lars has always been our foodie and their filet mignon is amazing so this was one of the more important parts of the trip for him. Neither of us could wait. We’d eat dinner Friday night, wake up early Saturday morning, get to Winter Park Resort before they opened and spend the day snowboarding together. 

Dinner was amazing. The next day we woke up and the weather couldn’t have been more perfect. Sun was out. Zero wind. Fresh powder all over the mountain. This was turning out to be an unbelievable weekend of crazy freedom, intimacy and joy.

It was about 10:00 am by the time I made it to the bottom of the mountain of my first run. Lars was not far behind me. When I got to the bottom I slid to a stop and looked up. He was about 100 yards away and I saw him fall forward which isn’t uncommon but what WAS uncommon was that he didn’t get up. I just yelled out, “you’re ok, get up!” Finally he did. Slowly.

By the time he made it down to me his cheeks were flush and he was holding his wrist. He wasn’t crying but he looked like he wanted to. He just said, “dad it hurts really bad. When I went down I heard something crack.”

So by 10:15 a.m. we were in the Winter Park Resort clinic. And sure enough his wrist was broken….

One Reply to “Just Play (part 3 of 4)”

  1. Jonathan-such good word’s but you left us hanging (with a broken wrist!) and wanting more! Thank you for the reminder about the toxicity of shame, and the importance of play!
    Write more next time.

    Timothy says:

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