keep on playing

stuffed friends know how to play

We don’t stop playing because we grow old;
we grow old because we stop playing.
~George Bernard Shaw

I’ve been thinking about play and happy and ageing. I like to play. I like stuffed animals and board games and make-believe. I can turn just about anything into playtime. Which is not to say that I can’t also be (sometimes too) serious – it’s not all lollipops and rainbows around here.

But my default is to look for the positive, to shine a light on the good, to be happy with what I have. The alternative – being grumpy, negative, and complaining – is just not that much fun.

Being the happy girl I am is sometimes challenging. The world seems tuned more to the grumpy, to the cynical, to judgement. Sometimes I have to really focus to maintain my hopeful centre.

People frequently tell me they can’t believe that I have a grown daughter in college. I have (plenty of) grey hair, wrinkles from decades of smiling and laughing, and hips that are consistent with my true age. The signs are there, and I’m not trying to hide them.

Still, people doubt. They figure I must have been a teen mom. (I definitely wasn’t.) I think what people are really saying is that I seem too happy and hopeful to be this age.

I – politely – disagree. I’m with G.B. Shaw on this one. It is being happy and hopeful that gives my life light and sparkle. I’ll keep on with that. Not because I’m trying to grasp at youth. But because I refuse the conventional definitions of what it means to be old(er).

While I was noodling this post (the quote above is one for my word of the year), I came across a link to this New Yorker article about Anne Hathaway.

I’ve been a fan of Anne Hathaway since Kristina and I watched her in The Princess Diaries with Julie Andrews. (We don’t schlump like this.) Since then, I’ve watched her grow up, on screen and off, into a talented,  intelligent woman of dignity and humour.

Reading this article, I suspect there is more to my appreciation of Anne Hathaway than I consciously realised. I sense a kindred spirit – someone with a healthy sense of play and a hopeful centre. I admire her ability to maintain this in the maelstrom of the media spotlight.

Here’s to play. At any age. At every age.

4 Comments

  • Some people think I am nuts because I am so active, but I classify my activities as play: Downhill Skiing—traveling as fast as I can down a mountain, Umpiring Lacrosse—running up and down a field AND getting paid for it, Teaching—talking in the presence of a live audience who will laugh at my corney jokes because, well because I am the prof!! All play, all fun 🙂

    • And that, my friend, is (part of) why we are such good friends. That, and you listen when I triple-tell my stories. To have your life be filled with so much play – you are a total inspiration.

    • I agree. Very likeable. With a big ready smile that can light up a room, a thoughtful mind, and a compassionate heart.

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