As soon as we heard that Tuesday would be a snow day, staff and students alike were dancing around the office with joy. Finally! After plenty of snow and just one late start to show for it, we were all thrilled to have an unexpected day off.
My roommates and I were talking last night about our plans for the day, and one of them asked what I was going to do.
“I guess I should do my taxes…so probably that and catching up on some work.”
As soon as this sentence came out of my mouth, I realized how boring the day sounded. Of course I need to do my taxes, and work is always a priority–but snow days are the best kind of holiday, and what about a little imagination?!
Playing in the snow was way better than doing taxes. Spending some time goofing around, building snowmen, and joking with my roommates was the perfect way to start a day that balanced relaxation, joy, and productivity. In his post “The Lost Art of Play: Reclaiming a Primal Tradition”, Mark Sisson addresses the exact situation I found myself in today:
To get the full advantage of genuine play, we have to surrender – or at least suspend – something in ourselves that’s often hard to relinquish — the obsession with obvious productivity for one, the onslaught of technological distraction for another.
Given time off to do anything I wanted (except drive on the icy roads), my immediate impulse was to use this time to do ALL THE THINGS. I woke up, wrote three pages in my journal, then promptly checked my email and made a To Do list. Then I ate breakfast, put on several layers of snow clothes, and went outside with my roommates to play like a kid for an hour.
And guess what? I’ve still been productive. Starting the day with play set a positive tone and high energy level for the rest of the day’s activities. Allowing myself to shake off all responsibility and “obsession with productivity” for even a short time meant that when I did set out to work, I did so with focus and a strong sense of purpose.
Sisson writes primarily about play as “joyous outdoor activity“, and he explains that the benefits of play are most apparent when we embrace the freedom and release that come with full emotional engagement in an activity. I believe this joy can come from many places–shutting your laptop and spending a few minutes engrossed in a joking conversation with your coworker, singing as you cook breakfast, or reading a beautifully written book. Social and intellectual interactions like games and novels help enhance our mental dexterity, keeping us grounded and growing in the present. As Sisson writes,
When we embrace play, we claim a better quality of life for ourselves. We decrease stress. We connect better with those around us. We get out more and get more out of what we do. We find more fun and maybe even meaning.
Playing outside today was certainly a little childish, but it was also something I rarely do. Trying new things and imagining a different world–even if it is inhabited by snowmen, snow pandas, and snow dogs–pushes me to become a more creative individual. Indoors or out, I can’t wait to get out and play more this spring!