To be able to tune your mind to being for a few moments, minutes or even hours, to a frequency band that returns you to childhood play? I think so…except I might forget to set the time limit and just stay there! The image of this post does remind me of those days of being a boy, playing outdoors which is where I was mostly if it wasn’t too cold (never too hot, oddly…even in the Texas heat, but then we had no air conditioning at all).
I vividly recall this fallen, great oak tree, that was quite huge to me as a small boy. It had to be quite “ancient” by normal standards, for it had lost all of its bark to age and insects, and had bleached in the sun to be a grayish white. To me it served as Moby Dick, or as a great ship, or any number of “platforms,” even a big airplane. I would run up and down it, out on its “tail fin”, up to its snout, fighting villains, leaping off its back to land several feet below, then run and leap upon it again, fighting my way back against huge odds.
Some years earlier I remember even at the age of four and five, how various objects my Daddy had sitting around, like his old one-horse trailer, that became in my fertile boy mind, a stage coach. I would dress in my Hopalong Cassidy (yes kids, there actually was a movie character named that…look it up!) outfit that Mama had bought me, complete with boots and hat, and riding my stick horse Topper, race around the stage coach shooting at the bad guys who had stolen it and the gold it carried. I would leap onto the stage coach, and arrest the horse team to bring it to a hard stop while shooting these bad guys.
In another post I may have mentioned me becoming a matador and fighting my pet goats. Now that little play activity nearly got me hurt bad. We had a few “Sancho” goats…orphaned goats our parents had raised by bottle feeding…and these preferred to stay inside our yard often, looking for more food, even after they were nearly grown. I had discovered that if I pulled on the tail of one of these goats, it would turn around and butt me, much to my delight. Somewhere I guess I had seen some bullfight scenes, and at that age that impressed me sufficiently to become one. So I got a towel for a cape, and would pull the goat’s tail, and it would turn and “charge” me. Well, that worked well and we were having lots of fun (at least I was, not sure about little goat), until on one pass the goat had had enough of pesky boy, pushed me against the yard wire fence. Now I was actually about the same height as the goat, and it had full horns, and had pinned me against the fence with its head in my chest and its horns at my throat. Of course, by then the fun had vanished, and sheer fear had set in and I was screaming my head off. Mama came running thank goodness, to save her little matador. Needless to say, that game was not on my play list afterwards.
I know many children in the world have little opportunity to freely play, but I have seen that around the world, even children living in the most dire circumstances do play. Each place, time and nature of their play is spontaneous and captures their minds for a while, taking them to a place away from the mundane, or suffering, or the gnawing hunger in their little tummies. Such is play. It is what we were given to refresh ourselves a little bit, to have the strength to carry on. Unfortunately most adults lose that faculty to activate their “play mind.” Watching my little granddaughter, not even age two, play, is so amazing and wonderful, and is a catalyst to activate mine. Through her I can relive to a degree the feeling of play, a place devoid of time and real space, just joy, if just for a few moments. But in play land, a moment in this dream time can be an hour.
Yes, if I could go back and reclaim my own “play mind”, I would in a heartbeat. I have heard the question asked before, why are we humans born little and die as wrinkled, dull old folks (if we are so fortunate to live to old age). It might be nice to be born somehow fully grown, fully wise, then get smaller and smaller, having more and more fun as our time expires. Think about it.