10. Laugh, Play, & Relax
Laughter truly is the best medicine when it comes to living healthy. A hearty sense of humor is also unbelievably attractive, especially when it includes the ability to laugh at ourselves. To laugh at oneself is to laugh with all that is.
We all played games as children. When we grew tired of one game, we simply learned another or made up a new one. In my hardest times as a child, I would create wonderful games with imaginary stimuli. I could even turn my strife into play sometimes. Play taught me to treat existence itself as a game in which the only rules that apply are the ones that we create together. I’ve also found that our rules are always changing, along with everything else in life and death.
As we grow into our responsibilities, we often fail to see the contradictions in our playful co-creations. We authorize self-judgment along with the judgment of others for changing our minds, our hearts, and our world. We expect each other to acknowledge and respect our projected truths without much, if any, reflection of our own dishonesty. We make such a fuss over how to live and die that it becomes a celebrated event if we manage to express our passion momentarily. If we are overwhelmed by the idea of earning money, it becomes natural to embrace stress while sacrificing joy. It becomes practical to let our fear of consequences stifle our love of learning. We hide our tears while we trade our play for work. It requires effort to be kind to ourselves and to one another. And we become quite tense.
When we are caught this paradoxical ridiculousness, the joke is on us. We have forgotten that this biological existence is more profoundly meaningful than we’ve ever expected. That we only get one shot at recognizing the perfection in ourselves, in everyone, and everything in each moment we are present. That being present is indeed the gift of life itself.
When I remember this paradigm, I can let go of the ideas that separate perfection from imperfection. I can live without the idea of control or lack thereof. I am free to play, to observe without attaching any opinion to the ways the world is unfolding, to laugh and cry without cause. Without reason I feel peace. Within peace I feel conflict. Through conflict I feel joy. When I feel joy, I let go of reason. Being present in each feeling with respect to this cycle often sustains a general sense of gratitude. It has become my favorite game. I call it “Lazy Eight.”
I am convinced that this is ultimately what led me to be gratefully playful in life. After 20 years of taking adult life ultra-seriously, I have learned that survival is the most basic of games. That the weight of the world is a removable vest we use to increase or decrease the difficulty of playing. That every system, every currency, and every culture is a game. And that being playful is the very nature of being human.
At last we get to the most important reminder, which I believe does wonders for our overall health and wellbeing… Relax.
I feel healthier overall when learning/practicing tangible ways to relieve the tension that seems to accompany the responsibilities of creating and playing our games. At several points during the day, I will sit back, let my shoulders down, take a deep breath, and smile. At least once each day I like to express a silent gratitude for a reality that challenges me past survival into joyful blossoming with the abundance of life. ∞
“Everything you do, if not in a relaxed state will be done at a lesser level than you are proficient.”- Bruce Lee