Don’t forget to play

If you’ve ever read my column before, you know I like to play. I mainly ride bikes, but I also love rock climbing, squash, and all sorts of other activities.

Now that I have kids, I see how natural it is to play. Sure my kids have chores, school, and regular kid responsibilities, but watching them play by themselves in the yard, or at the park, is amazing.

They weren’t taught and they didn’t need guidance from youtube, they just know how to play. Like most mammals, it’s natural. It entertains them, it calms them, and it educates them in a bunch of ways.

I think when a lot of us grow up and get to be serious adults, we take on jobs, kids, and whatever other schedule filling responsibilities that cause us to lose track of our natural playfulness.

Last Sunday I woke up to one of those crappy days. I hadn’t slept well. My daughter was grumpy and in a mood that would have scared the devil. My son had his toys spread into every room. When I looked outside while planning my ride, it was raining sideways and the wind was gusting so hard that riding in the forest was a risky option.

It was right about then that I stepped on a very sharp piece of Lego. I hadn’t ridden my bike in over a week due to the snow, I was stressed about the aforementioned schedule filling responsibilities, and now my foot was bleeding … I lost my mind and had a bit of a melt down. Toys were tossed, voices were raised, and I decided I better leave for a bit before I started shovelling Lego into the garbage.

I headed to the beach to watch the stormy waves. While I was calming down I saw a few seagulls playing in the wind. They would surf the gusts for a minute or two and then carve a big turn and let the wind take them at full speed along the beach. They repeated this over and over for 30 minutes. i don’t know if seagulls feel stress, but if they do, I am sure surfing in a wind storm resolves it.

It reminded me of down hill mountain biking. Ride up the chair lift, and then let gravity take you back down at full speed, only to do it again, and again, and again. All of a sudden I had forgotten about my morning and was smiling again.

For me it’s the challenge and the exercise of play that pulls me in, but the side affects give me more important benefits.

Without play, I don’t cope as well, I stress more about irrelevant issues, and I don’t sleep well. Play is natural, and necessary, but we seem to push it down the priority list as soon as something “important” pops up.

So next time you’re schedule is looking full of adultness, squeeze in a bike ride, some rock climbing, or just hang out on the floor and play lego with your kids. (watch where you’re walking though, those little blocks are frickin’ sharp)

I’m James Durand and I’m Goin’ Ridin’…