Episode # 73 – The courage to play
“We don’t stop playing because we get older; we get older because we stop playing.”
Last week I attended #PLAY14, a three-day gathering of like-minded people who believe that playing is the best way to learn, share, and be creative. #PLAY14 brings together some of the best and finest corporate and individual leadership coaches and human design specialists in the world who believe that playing can be a significant teacher.
I like to see myself as an eternal student, and trying new things goes hand in hand with stepping out of my comfort zone. Doing things that were so natural and self-evident as a child has become awkward and makes me feel like a fool. The ego has become a strong adversary and gatekeeper to innocent playfulness, sharing, being creative, learning, and being free of judgement towards myself and others.
As I get older and the naïve innocence of a child gets replaced with the unavoidable experiences of malevolence and tragedy, I’m also being seduced by the dark side of life with feelings of bitterness and resentment. There is a case to be made that life is about suffering, but staying trapped in that belief doesn’t sound like a prosperous strategy, and perhaps a more appropriate response would be: What am I going to do about it?
It’s not always easy to step away from the darkness when there seems to be no light and we don’t know where to look, but there is a place that many, myself included, haven’t visited in a long time. A place that takes us back to a time of innocence, ignorance, carelessness, and unfulfilled potential. A place that invites us to reconnect with a long-lost friend that reminds us of who we were before the world told us who we should be.
Letting go of the ego and slowly surrendering to my inner child doesn’t just bring back playfulness, openness, creativity, and the opportunity to look at myself from a different perspective; it also made me realize that it takes courage to reconnect to that long-forgotten ally that lives inside all of us.
Courage finds its root in the word ‘cor’, the Latin word for heart. In one of its earliest forms, the word courage meant “to speak one’s mind by telling all one’s heart.” It takes courage to not just speak from the heart but also to act upon it, and that’s what #PLAY14 invites you to open up to.
The most inspiring and heartwarming moment I experienced during the event came from an 80-year-old man who was walking around on the domain and singing old songs. He sang like there was no tomorrow, trying to reach the high notes without caring who was listening or what anyone would think of him. (you can see and hear him sing in the video below)
Something magical happens when we have the courage to let go of our ego and the opinions of other people and surrender to something bigger than ourselves. As we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same, and as we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.