Monday, March 16, 2009

"Fully Loaded, We Got Snacks and Supplies": On Road Tripping and Remembering (How) to Play

I have a tendency to write endlessly even on the most mundane or inconsequential topics. It boggles my mind that one-person blogs have multiple posts a day, if only because it takes me such a long time to reflect on a matter, to congeal it somehow into a coherent post, then to labor over editing it into some kind of acceptable imperfection, finally to deposit all of my thinking on the matter "here," in this thing called a "post." There it is, ready for all to see.

So, even with that kind of wide-open introductory paragraph, I want to be brief. At least, I will try.

As I mentioned previously, I spent the last week road tripping ("with my two favorite allies...") around the state of Florida with a couple old friends from college and before. The trip was centered around disc golf: we averaged 2-3 courses a day, in almost a dozen different cities. I'd never played a day of disc golf before the first day of the trip, so there was obviously a bit of a learning curve.

On the first course, about four holes in, I was struggling. I was hot; I had just clawed my way through bramble to find my first errant disc throw; and worst of all, I wasn't accomplishing a thing. There were books to read, bills to pay, sites to keep up with, news to follow, punditry to dissect. Everything was sitting there, on one big imaginary list in my brain, unchecked all, not one in the process of being taken care of. For a second there, I was going mad.

And then it clicked. And it stayed clicked for the rest of the trip. All of that business, all of that chaos, all of that list-crossing and item-accomplishing -- it could wait. The world would keep turning. Despite all evidence to the contrary, I was and am, in fact, not Atlas.

Not only that -- that is, not only would "not doing," i.e., "resting from work," be okay -- mere not-working was not enough.

It was time for play.

And I am here to tell you that I had forgotten what it means to play. A 12-part series on a theology of play might be waiting in your future, but not now. Right now I only want to remember not to forget to play, or how to play, ever again. Even as I return to the chaotic mess of the world, even as I grow more and more discouraged as I plunge back into the sad pettiness and violence and discord and falsity and and pain that colors (what feels like) every image and word and action in this broken, tired world -- I remember the great gift, not merely of resting, but of playing.

So this week I'm going to do some playing around. Just for fun. Just for the non-accomplishment of it. Just for the joy of being a creature in creation doing simple creaturely things.

To you, too, I commend playing. Escape the fray, if only for a bit, and forget all of the things you ought to be doing or learning or finishing, and throw a disc or shoot a basket or take a walk. Revel in God's satisfying, this-is-the-thing-and-nothing-else happiness. Play.

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