I am constantly reminded of how short our lives really are, and how crucial it is to our own state of happiness that we enjoy our lives to the fullest.
A few years ago, a friend shared the following story on Facebook. It has haunted me ever since:
He had just lost his beloved 26-year-old niece, and he and his parents had stepped in to care for his great-nieces, who were 2 and 5 years old.
When kindergarten started for the 5-year-old that Fall, my friend was volunteering in her classroom and the activity that morning was to build something out of Legos, then show-and-tell it with the class.
My friend's niece confidently took her finished piece to the front of the class and set the square design onto the desk in front of her.
"It's a People-moving machine," she began. "It takes people to heaven," she explained while she maneuvered the claw-like appendage on the back of the "machine" and slid the Lego box across the table.
She went on to explain--as she bounced on her toes, clearly excited about her creation--that "Once you get to heaven, you have to answer one question to get through the gates."
Beaming, she looked into the faces of dozens of classmates and their parents, then continued:
"God will ask you: 'So, did you have fun?'"
As my friend relayed the story, he emphasized that the adults in the classroom went silent as they looked at each other in discomfort.
How could a child--who should've been grieving--be so wise?
I cried when I read that post, and nearly 3 years later, it's still hard for me to swallow.
Five powerful words: So, did you have fun?
This very young child had just lost her very young mother. She was living in a new home--surrounded by people she knew and loved--but it wasn't her environment, her home, or her familiar space.
Yet she already understood the value of life. And life continued despite her huge loss.
And according to her, life was about playing.
I played a lot when my kids were young. Having three to entertain daily was easy when I could take them to the park, the pool, McDonald's play area, a friend's home, a museum, or on some sort of trip.
The kids were both my excuse and my reason for playing. And we played hard. We also traveled often.
But now that they are off into their own lives, my level of play seems to have slowed down. I still play, but I don't often have the same child-like enthusiasm, or unbridled faith to race into new situations without some hesitance.
Being with my children brought out the kid in me. It also required that I play full-out, which I did. Some days, I was the biggest kid of all. And I loved it.
You'd think that now when I'm free from raising kids, I'd have this playing-thing down pat.
But you would be sadly mistaken.
Playing often gets stifled, put on the back burner, or ignored because I have other "important" things to do. And I usually attach it to needing money, but there are so many ways to play without costing a single cent!
How about you? Do you play enough? Do you play full-out? Or, like me, do you often use excuses to forego playing more?
I don't know about you, but I'm ready to change this self-defeating habit. I'm ready to stop making excuses and PLAY FULL-OUT!
I challenge you. And I challenge myself.
Let's go play like children. Like nobody's watching.
Then tell me all about it...