We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves, or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play. Charles Schaefer
The backstory: It was a rainy autumn afternoon and I’d just put myself back in my PJ’s; I was in time out for the shittiness of my day. I literally had my head under the covers when my computer alarm went off and the words “Aliveness Salon in 4 hours” flashed, ominously across the screen.
Oh. My. Buttface hell. Soon, the community would be full of wild people playing and exploring aliveness together. I stuck my face deeper into the comforter and kind of whimpered. Then I started moaning and making half/gurgle half/scream sounds that all meant “NO! I don’t want to pull it together!” I felt so absolutely out of range of all things amazing.
At first, the noises coming out of me were unconscious. Clearly, my my inner brat had taken over the helm and was having a proper hissy, but when I became aware of them, I realized that I actually felt a little better than I did before I started gurgle/scream/moaning, so I did it more, and as I did, I felt an inspiration to go even deeper. I did a quick check around before I flipped myself over on my back so I could kick my feet. Yeah, exactly like a two year in a tantrum. Oh, that felt fantastic. I kicked harder into the mattress. How satisfying! Wham, bounce, wham! Why didn’t I do this all the time? This flailing, whamming bounce was giving shape and release to my internal frustration so beautifully. I started pummelling the mattress with my fists like a nutter, harder and harder until I broke into a sweat, and then a little harder still. I’d plum wore myself out when I finally opened my eyes.
Of course there was a gaggle of children and adults in my open doorway, isn’t there always in stories such as these? And just like in the movies, they were fake-trying not to watch, slack jawed, and failing miserably.
Hours later, I scrabbled back in, with time enough to shower and greet the guests with a genuine smile and a great readiness to play.
How we fall Out of Range of a decision:
Ever say yes to something and wonder who is booking all your appointments? We often say yes to things, when we’re already happily playing. Maybe you’re on your first cup of coffee, Facebookin’ and clickin’ yes to invites, or you’re in the middle of an already warmed up playspace and someone makes some suggestion and from your level of happy Playin’, all you can see or say is YES!
But most of us don’t live at that level, so when the time comes to do the Yes thing, it feels different to you then it did when you first said yes to it. It feels like an imposition, and you wonder why you said yes to it in the first place, what were you THINKING? Or not thinking? All the things about the yes that you liked you can’t remember, and aren’t even trying to, because you’re just trying to think of what excuse will get you out of this.
(It’s fine to change your mind. It’s fine to say yes then no, but for those who may wish to play fully and closely with others, this tendency can slow down intimacy. It erodes our trust in ourselves to be able to direct our lives and play in it fully. And if we don’t trust ourselves, others can’t trust us either.)
Before your next Yes, do math:
When you’re about to say yes, scan to see how in alignment with that yes you actually are. Listen for the “yes, buts” because these are the very things that will seem insurmountable when the time for playing comes round. Are there parts of you that aren’t quite sure? Usually there is lingering stuff, like, you want to go dancing, but you don’t like this particular venue and are just trying to ignore that fact. When I give yesses, I sometimes give a percentage, like, I’m 60% yes on this, and the person I’m comrading with will know where I’m at.
I usually don’t do things that I’m not at least 80 or 90% lined up with because a partial alignment with something brings in partially satisfying experiences. I try to do the work to clear out whatever resistance I have about doing something so that by the time I get there, I’m fully ready to play.