Thursday, June 3, 2010

Can Nancy Come Out and Play?

I've been puttering. A new media cabinet is being delivered today, and you know how one thing leads to another. Bruce moved the former TV table, a vintage yellow table with a shelf, to my office, suggesting I use it for my printer. Great idea, but predictably that meant more than moving the printer from one table to another. Because this table is bigger than the one I used before, I now have room for printer paper and maybe even the shredder. Well, the upshot is that for the past hour I have been rearranging, puttering, playing. For me, puttering is a form of sacred play or "deep play" as writer Diane Ackerman calls it in the book of the same name. Ackerman says when we allow ourselves to engage in deep play, the result is gratitude. I agree, for when I sat down at my newly arranged desk, I felt a rush of gratitude for my luxurious life. I have time to putter, to create space for new ideas, thoughts, connections, and inner conversations as I play. I am so fortunate.
What form does your play take? How often do you play? Does play feel self-indulgent to you and if so, why is that? We encourage our children to play, knowing play is a way children learn valuable information about themselves and the world, but for many of us play is an after-thought. After we get our work done. After our children are grown. After we've made our mark in the world. After we retire. After....

Ackerman says play is required--not an add-on--in order to feel whole, and play is "a form of prayer based on a reverence for life." Now on the surface, the exclusive organization with only 4 members (a dear friend, my sister, my daughter and myself), Girls on Safari, dedicated to the pursuit of antiques, may seem more irreverent than reverent, but I think it fulfills all of Ackerman's requirements for deep play. My sister's van may not seem like sacred space, but on our antiquing adventures it becomes the space not only for antiques, but for sharing our lives and loves, a place to tell stories and share hopes and dreams and a way to step out of our ordinary lives and celebrate friendship and fun. Antique shops become our playground, but even play has some structure, rules, and regulations. Ours include No Bickering (Finders Keepers) and No Whining. Ever. Play often includes competition, and Girls on Safari is no exception, for prizes are awarded in a variety of categories, such as First Purchase, Best Bargain, and Best Costume, which my sister usually wins by wearing vintage pearls and/or brooches. On our last outing, someone, I won't say who, won the Whoops! Award for breaking something in a store. The owner deserved a prize for her graciousness, saying it was her fault for placing it so precariously! Well, I could go on with story after story about our adventures, but suffice it to say, that our periodic trips enrich our lives because of the pleasures of being together and the time we devote to playing with each other.

Ackerman says a manifestation of deep play is love, and last night as I created the newsletter (Yes, that's right, a newsletter!) for our most recent GOS day, I was overwhelmed with love for these women. Not only does our playtime rejuvenate and restore us, but playing together connects us to the loving and joyful spirit that dwells within.

Have you played today?

Note: The photo was taken recently at our last stop, Hunt and Gather, a whimsical and jam-packed antique shop in Minneapolis.


  1. Lovely. I dig the description of puttering as Deep Play. Indeed!

  2. I am currently playing "Splashing in Puddles" with my 3 year old grandson in Tasmania! Also, "Hiding Under the Dining Table" and other adventurous undertakings. He is an endless source of playful opportunities. And the grandmotherly connection through this play is awesome! Joan

  3. I am looking forward to playing today....
    Wonderful phlosophy!