I visited the National Carriage Museum at Arlington Court recently and met an engaging young boy called Patrick. He told me he had to save the Queen. I was intrigued so I asked him from whom was he saving the Queen. It seemed our esteemed Royal Highness was under attack from a dastardly Giant.
What followed for the next 30 minutes kept me entranced in this little boy’s imagination. The Giant, it turned out, was an easy adversary to overcome but the Dragon and Tiger that followed took some beating.
I growled, I roared, I was chased and the chaser. I was concussed by a sword as the brave and valiant Patrick sought to protect his monarch. I relished returning to a world where anything can happen, rules and boundaries aren’t broken as they cease to exist. It was only after Patrick knelt down to receive his Knighthood (he was very pleased to become SIR Patrick) that I realised how many people had stopped to watch. All were smiling and some had a hint of envy in their eyes.
As adults we are consumed by duty and responsibility. Is there enough money to pay the mortgage, put food on the table, pay the bills? We work, often in jobs we don’t enjoy, to earn the money to fulfil our responsibilities. But what about the duty to ourselves?
Each time I walk past a playground I relive the ecstatic enjoyment of flying through the air on the swings, racing across the grass to escape the lions/tigers/bears or shouting “Ahoy” as land finally comes into view after eons at sea. Maybe I have a Peter Pan complex and just don’t want to grow up. But the fact is, that half an hour I spent with Sir Patrick wrapped up in a world of Queens and Dragons was probably the biggest stress buster I’ve had in a long time.
Play is a state of mind that is condemned in adulthood as “being childish”, building self-conscious fears in our mind about expressing our innate creativity. Life flows with greater ease if we allow ourselves some time for play every day. For children, play is a necessary part of cognitive, social and emotional growth. Why does that change when we reach a certain age?
I pledge to play a little every day, to let my imagination run as wild and free as young Sir Patrick, to be the me I have always been and to see the world once again with a sense of wonder and awe. Do you?