Alive and Kicking: Life is short; let’s play!
Posted on August 5, 2014 by Chad Adcock
What does it mean to play every day? This is a concept that children have an excellent grasp of and unfortunately, adults often do not. As we age, our lives get in the way of truly living. We get wrapped up in the fleeting trivialities of this life and lose our focus on what is really important – enjoying each day as it comes and loving the friends and family we are fortunate enough to have around us.
When I was a kid, I remember hearing about a number that often got tossed around in the media – for optimal health, children need one hour of play every day. It’s one of those things I heard so often that it remains permanently ingrained in my memory – kind of like the list of every single helping verb in the English language that my 7th grade English teacher, Mrs. Forse, would be proud to know that I still remember.
For me, getting one hour of play every day was never an issue. My friends and I were constantly playing. Nearly every day after school, we would spend our afternoons riding our bicycles, or playing football, or hiking through the woods, or building a fort, or any number of other things that our vivid imaginations would lead us to do.
Something tends to happen to us as we get older, though. Our imaginations get a little bit smaller, we take ourselves much more seriously and we stop playing. Our focus shifts away from squeezing the most amount of fun we can muster out of every single day to more tedious and mundane things like punching time clocks and making mortgage payments on time and our cholesterol levels and which programs are going to be a part of the new fall TV lineup and oh my, is that a new wrinkle? When did that get there?
We forget to take the time to play every day, and this is a real tragedy. Life is incredibly short and occasionally we have a tendency to forget that fact, while we are too busy living it.
I love the lyrics in that old song made famous by Frank Sinatra and Elvis, “My Way”:
“Regrets, I’ve had a few
but then again, too few to mention…”
In my experience working with older adults, I have yet to meet anyone who, as they reflect back on their lives, has regrets about not spending more time at their jobs or worrying about things or being stressed out. Many of them, however, do wish they had traveled more, or tried new things, or spent more time with their loved ones. The healthiest and happiest seniors are the ones who are still in love with life and live each day to the fullest. These are the ones who take the time to play every day and live their lives with no regrets.
One of the residents in my community, Mildred S., is a perfect example of this. When someone asks her how she is doing, she emphatically states, “I’m alive and kicking for high life and more money!” What a fabulous philosophy of life to have at 95 years old.
Personally, I don’t want to have any regrets and I never want to forget how to play. Each day, I want to grab life by the horns and ride it, kicking and screaming, until the very end. And I want this for the residents in my community, as well. That’s why it is important, in my programming, to provide ample opportunities for the residents to enjoy themselves, to be silly and play, to do things they’ve never done before, to connect with each other and their loved ones, and to have fun and get the most out of this life. Whether it’s going outside to toss a Frisbee around or learning how to do the chicken dance or making up a secret handshake, we take the time to play every day, and so should you.
Life is short; let’s play!