During quarantine, there’s a prevailing thought that we are “stuck” at home. Even Ellen DeGeneres, currently living in yet another of her fabulous homes, surrounded by gardens and mountains, compared being at home to “being in jail.” Not a fair comparison by any means and yet psychologically this resonates with many: being required to stay home feels like being under house arrest.
This is really an adult feeling. I promise to explain that more if you stay with me and keep reading this blog, but for today, I need you to trust me on this. Home is the realm of the child. Only as we move out of childhood do we begin to consider leaving home or have the desire to be away from it.
I can pretty much guarantee anyone reading this is not a kid. And many of us do not have children at home with us. Some of us are even still working. Others are trying to work and finding it more difficult than they imagined.
Right now my own internal kid really wants to play. But you haven’t heard from me in a while, so I’m committed to sharing a secret with you. Well, one of the secrets I discovered through my years of researching home.
We become attached to our homes and to places / landscapes / environments when we play in them. Play is always positive. It creates moments we remember. Even when memories fade, the feelings remain. And the places where those good times happened become associated with our happiness.
So the secret, my friends, is to play. Do things that make you happy, that make you smile. Be silly. Be ridiculous. Laugh at yourself. Adopt the attitude and eyes of a child. Joseph Campbell wrote:
”Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything that becomes a continuous and increasing joy.”
Today I went on a scavenger hunt for things that make my heart sing. I found flowers. Sunflowers and daisies!! Yellow always makes me happy. My smile is so wide. Then I bought orange polish for my toes. And finally, watercolors and a rainbow pack of pencils. I’m so excited. I was swinging my packages and almost skipping, soaking in the sunshine and the delight of these treasures.
Then, once home, I saw the bicycle my landlord left for me and I took it for a spin. I squealed with glee going up and down the street. I was laughing!! I worked up a sweat. I almost hit a curb. I almost skinned my knee. I’m still laughing at the memory.
“What you have to do, do with play.”
Whatever you do today, I hope you do something just for the sheer fun of it. Look around your home and consider: what can you do that will make this place, and this time in this place, fun?
“I think a good way to conceive of sacred space is a playground. If what you’re doing seems like play, you are in it. But you can’t play with my toys, you have to have your own. Your life should have yielded something. Older people play with life experiences and realizations or with thoughts they like to entertain. In my case, I have books I like to read that don’t lead anywhere.”
I’m also reading an absolutely ridiculous book of fiction, Interesting Times by Terry Pratchett. “May you live in interesting times.” So apropos for this moment, yes? And also steeped in myth.
I can’t tell you what to do anymore than this. There’s no instruction book for how to have fun. But ask the kid inside you. I guarantee s/he has some suggestions for where to start. And if you’re lucky enough to be sheltering in place with a dog or a cat or even a ferret, they’re perpetually children too. They’re always willing to teach us a thing or two about play.
One final thought from Campbell:
“What did you do as a child that created timelessness, that made you forget time? There lies the myth to live by.”
* All quotes are from A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living, selected and editedby Diane K. Olson, 1991. Page 181