As we become ever entrenched in adulthood, our focus can narrow to our careers, families, and responsibilities. We’re so busy putting one foot in front of the other on the path laid down before us to…what…retirement? And then, if we make it as far as retirement (no one is guaranteed tomorrow!), we have to somehow re-teach ourselves how to play and laugh. But by that time, it is possible that we have been too far removed from play that it’s just too hard to figure out what that means anymore. Without play, will we just become grumpy old farts?
I learned from my father (who is not a grumpy old fart) that play doesn’t ever have to stop. Sure he worked, and he enjoyed his work, and though I never witnessed it, I’d be willing to bet he brought that playful spirit right there into his classroom (he taught machine shop). That guy has never stopped playing as far as I can tell.
We work a lot during the main season. We haven’t found a way around that yet. I mean, the main season is the main season for good reason: longer days, more crop possibilities, crops grow faster and better…the list goes on. But we haven’t shut ourselves out from the power of play.
Play has been shown to release endorphins, improve brain functionality, and stimulate creativity. Studies show that play improves memory and stimulates the growth of the cerebral cortex. One of the definitions of play, from the Oxford English Dictionary, is to wield light and freely. Ha! Our work can be difficult, uncomfortable, tedious, and unending. Incorporating some play into our days lightens things up a lot! It makes us want to keep returning to the task at hand. It keeps us growing food!
This past weekend, the Tumbling Shoals team brought their A game to the world of play. We showed up to the 4th annual Farm Olympics in full costume (what do you mean it wasn’t a costume party?! Every event is a costume party!), and just upped the fun(ny) level for everyone. We wielded lightly and freely and we laughed hard. We gave our all to the power of play and are still riding the wave of endorphins.