Friday, January 24, 2014

Come, Let's Play

I was living my life at that point all suit and tie, pressed white shirt, business card in hand. Please the client. Please the boss. When do I ever please myself?

I was focused on the daily, the to-do, the ever-growing inbox. Meet the deadline. Push out product. For Christ’s sake, just get the job done. In my busy-ness to look good in the eyes of others, however, I had failed to consider the eyes with which I was born.

My world at that point consisted of book bags and baseball cleats, lacrosse sticks and running shorts, gym bags, permission slips, and fundraiser after godforsaken fundraiser. Get them fed; get them dressed; get them out the door. Feed their bellies, feed their brains, feed their fragile self-esteem.

Never mind the spouse, the breadwinner, the partner to whom I had pledged my life. That is another set of business altogether.

Why did I do this? Why did I approach my world as if it were a business, a corporation in need of management and design? I rose to the top, moved up that ladder, clawed my way up every rung. I immersed myself, rolled up my shirtsleeves and got to the business at hand. I ran a tight ship. Left no stone unturned. Kicked some major ass. I took the challenge, and I ran with it. I ran until I could run no more. This was a picture I had worked to create, had wanted all my days. And here I was, smack in the middle of my design. My family, my work, my education, my home. All were my life, yes, but they were a business nonetheless.

Then one day I take a breath. I take a breath, and I look around. I love this life. I love it all. But something is not as it should be. I have not, as I find, turned every stone. I have not attended to all. I have left one hungry. I have left her unfed, unloved, crying in her room, waiting, waiting her turn at my heart.

I look to the side and there I see a little girl with mud on her face, rocks in her hands, creating pastries out of sticks and dirt. “Come play,” she says. I turn my head and pretend that I don’t see. I look again to check that she is gone. She stands now in her tutu and tights, flinging smiles, dancing for the crowd. “Come play,” she says. “Not today,” I tell her. “Not today.” It is always not today. It is never time for play. My life is business. My life is carpools and schedules and babies and chores. It is not finger paints on clean white walls, sandcastles in the sun. It is not hair loose and free, flying in the wind, spinning circles with arms stretched wide. It is not. And yet the little girl inside of me begs, begs to play, to dance, to laugh and create. She begs, and still I turn her away.

Have I forgotten? Have I forgotten how to let go and live? Have I forgotten the feel of green grass between bare toes, snowflakes on the tongue? Have I forgotten the simple joy of singing for no reason other than the song is in my heart? Do I have a song? Do I have a song inside my heart?

I am ready now for her to come out. I am ready now to play. I want her to show me again how to make jewels out of clover and angels in the snow. I want to roll down hills until I am so dizzy I can no longer stand. I want to sit with her and play clapping games with funny rhymes and talk about boys we have liked and notes that we have passed. I have missed her. I have missed this friend of mine. I have been too serious in my life. I have been too serious for much too long. I am ready now. I am ready now to play.

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