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Picking more daisies

If I had my life to live over again,
I’d dare to make more mistakes next time.
I’d relax.
I’d limber up.
I’d be sillier than I’ve been this trip.
I would take fewer things seriously.
I would take more chances,
I would eat more ice cream and less beans.
I would, perhaps, have more actual troubles but fewer imaginary ones.
you see, I’m one of those people who was sensible and sane,
hour after hour,
day after day.

Oh, I’ve had my moments.
If I had to do it over again,
I’d have more of them.
In fact, I’d try to have nothing else- just moments,
one after another, instead of living so many years ahead of each day.
I’ve been one of those persons who never goes anywhere without a thermometer, a hot-water bottle, a raincoat, and a parachute.
If I could do it again, I would travel lighter than I have.

If I had to live my life over,
I would start barefoot earlier in the spring
and stay that way later in the fall.
I would go to more dances,
I would ride more merry-go-rounds,
I would pick more daisies.


When asked “How would you have lived your life differently if you had a chance?” Nadine Stair, an 85-year-old woman, from Louisville, Kentucky, provided these poetic words as her response. It can be so easy to be caught up in the busyness of our lives that we loose that quality we all had as children of being able to stop and be fascinated by the world around us.

Over the last few weeks I’ve been exploring opening more to this playful attitude since I’ve met someone who is very open to playing and its encouraging me to enjoy this as part of the friendship.  We met first to have coffee and dinner on the SouthBank and we had been chatting about bringing in the playfulness from childhood into our adult lives. But after dinner it was time to experience it rather than talk about it. We started by playing hide and seek and then tag – running after each other on the terrace under the Royal Festival Hall.  It was such a release to be able to play again. At one point we were passing an interactive sculpture that was one of a number along the South Bank – it was shaped like a slide but without steps. I saw it as a slide so climbed up and slid down.  Then my friend did as well.  Then a young woman saw us and ran over to join in and her friends helped her get up. A man who was with her looked over and laughed but said “she’s not related” – she shook her head and said “yes we are, he’s my brother”. And in that little interaction there was so much.  The critical inner voice that tells us to stop expressing our spontaneity. The denial of the playful self, in order to conform and fit in. And also how when one person plays or is more free it encourages that freedom of heart in others.

It also made me realise how important it is to connect out to others who encourage whatever it is in us that feels alive and vibrant. To have that flame fanned by the fire in another heart.

A few days latter I was on the South Bank again but in the day, and as I watched the sculpture again all of the children who went past it got their parent to lift them up so they could slide down, but none of the adults did!

One of the things I’m starting to learn is that I’m an extrovert whose coming out of hiding after I spent a lot of my life thinking I was introverted! So I enjoy doing these things and don’t worry about being seen. For true introverts running around on the South Bank will not be your idea of play and fun! But however we express it – whether at home or in public, it’s a fascinating experience to let go and allow a more carefree expression of that energy.

.Rather than waiting until the end of our lives to look aback an wish we had not cared so much about what others think, how could you start now “picking more daisies”?

Remembering to play!

We all did it at one time, and for many of us it is something we have grown out of. This week I’ve been chatting with a friend about play and he’s been talking about how he still likes to play hide and seek if he can find anyone who will play with him! It made me think of how much I miss that easy playfulness of childhood. As a gay man with no young relatives I hadn’t been able to explore play as an adult but over the last year I’ve volunteered with Beanstalk as a reading assistant in a school, meeting with three children twice a week for half an hour each. At the end of each session we would play a game, this was part of the Beanstalk approach, to make reading associated with fun. It has been great to experience that playful energy again. In one session we played tag and the fun of running around the playground and trying to avoid getting tagged was so refreshing! What was so lovely was to see how ready the children were to drop  into play mode.  As soon as I said reading was over and it was time for a game they would jump up and be asking what we would play.

I found it so easy to withdraw into seriousness and into myself as a teenager. Games suddenly meant playing football which terrified me or having to engage with the other boys which felt a threat. Even aged 10 and under I preferred to join the girls at break and play skipping rope games. I even took a doll in once but soon discovered that was a mistake!

One boyfriend of mine used to like to play at hiding when I came in and jumping out to surprise me.  It was such a lovely spontaneous and joyful way of being together, and as adults we perhaps need to have the trust of a close relationship to once again feel permission to play.

When did you stop playing? Or do you still feel able to connect with this child like playfulness? Where can you go to let yourself play? When I googled ‘adults playful’ mostly what came up was references to tantric sex! It’s telling that for many the notion of playfulness as adults is only linked to sex. And as fun as that can be what about that playfulness we felt as children that was about exploring, letting go into the moment and feeling joy?




As part of the theme of falling in love with yourself, how about considering how you used to like to play and how you might reconnect with this energy now as an adult? My play used to be solitary – as an only child I had to entertain myself.  It was using playing cards to make huge card towers and temple complexes on the sitting room floor, or running around the house with a lego hand held communicator imagining that I was the commander of a space ship that was under attack. When my cousins visited we would play out scenes from Dr Who until Paul refused anymore as he was always the monster and his sister Nicola was always the beautiful assistant to my Dr Who! So there was a mix of quiet, focused and still play in the building of card temples, and energy and vitality in chasing monsters! I can see these different energies as I look at these photos of myself as a child. As well as an early tendency to enjoy getting dressed up in hats!


I remember when play started to change, aged 10.  A friend came over and I had my lego town laid out ready to play a game. He looked at it and said it was for children and so I ended up playing alone as he sulked. I still wanted to be able to enjoy my lego town, but this made me think for the first time that perhaps it was time to stop playing with it and started a process of loosing touch with this type of childhood play, where my own imagination created the game.

As an adult how do I still connect with this? The stillness and focus is there in my meditation. But I’ve tended to neglect the more boisterous play and I don’t do anything the is about creating an imaginative senario. Five Rhythms dance on a Friday night is giving me a way back to feeling the vitality and energy of play, and as it is interactive there is a chance to connect out to others in the dance in ways that are playful and boisterous.

I also like to bring some of this into my friendships but there is space for more!

How do you connect with your playfulness? Where does it show up in your life and where could you make more space for it?

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