Saturday, January 05, 2008

Be Silly

The other night, Trimama and I were talking on the Skype connection, and we were discussing weighty matters of writing, triathlon, life, the universe and everything. About a nanosecond before my pontifications became intolerably self-absorbed and pretentious, Trimama had a visitor looking over her shoulder. That child soon switched out with another child, and then another, and finally with the kid to which she is married. I had to snap a photo because it was just too blogworthy to pass up. If ever there was a family that plays and gets silly, it is that one.

Here, at the beginning of the year, when there are lots of resolutions and plans and seriousness and introspection, that picture is a great reminder not to take one’s self too seriously. Sure, there are real and profound benefits from approaching this sport and this life with discipline and self-awareness. But you know, if there is no fun in it, if you’re not playing, what’s the point? Notwithstanding all the training schedules and monitors and gear and precision and practice and seriousness, this is supposed to be fun at the end of the day.

Years ago, I was one of the many who vow to go to the gym, or run, or get in shape, and I tried to do that, mostly by myself. My discipline was better than average, and I would see some temporary benefits in improved fitness or lost weight. But those benefits were always temporary because the training was a chore that was too easy to pass up when the weather was bad or life was busy. That changed when I found a type of training, in a community of athletes, that turned exercise into play time.

Playing changed me completely and permanently from the inside out. When training is play time, who is going to willingly give up play time no matter how busy they are? What kid in his right mind is going to give up “recess” to make sure he’s really sharp on those spelling words? Who is going to over-analyze a game of duck, duck, goose or ponder heart rate data on a game of tag?

As adults, we risk losing one of the essential ingredients of the well-lived life when we lose touch with play and all the child-like fun that goes with it. Kids learn and grow by playing, and we do too. If you stop playing, learning and growing, your purpose here has been forfeited and you’re just taking up space. Not to get too Jesussy for a general audience, but the guy I try to follow and emmulate once told his disciples, “Yo, bro! Don’t get in the kids’ way. Let them up here to me, for God’s kingdom is made of kids. Unless you change your act and start being a kid, you’re sunk.”

OK, so that was the Greyhound Amplified Version of some real bible verses.* And whether or not you’ve got a taste for Jesussy goodness, there are other sources that say the same thing. Sinatra, for one, reminds us that fairytales can come true--it can happen to you--if you’re young at heart. So, you don’t have to be a bible thumper to know that it’s worth looking in the mirror and asking whether you’ve lost the kid in you, and if so, how to get him or her back. Life is too precious and too short to scowl through your days like the world’s only living heart donor. Life is too important to leave it to the grownups.

Be silly. Training is recess. Go play.


*Mark 10:13-16 (“People were bringing little children to Jesus to have him touch them, but the disciples rebuked them. When Jesus saw this, he was indignant. He said to them, ‘Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. I tell you the truth, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it.’ And he took the children in his arms, put his hands on them and blessed them.”)

19 comments:

Wendy said...

Love that snapshot!!!!

Shelley said...

"like the world’s only living heart donor."..that has to be one of my favourite lines from Sabrina. And yes..life is too short not to be happ happ happy..:-D

Bigun said...

Thump thump thump.

Far be it from me to weigh in on biblical matters, lest my roof cave in over my head, but that passage, to me, speaks not to a child's playfullness, but rather, to his unyielding ability for absolute belief.

Now back to your regularly scheduled thumping. Play hard, my good sir!

Speed Racer said...

Very well said. The less I train and the more I play, the faster I get. It's a process, but I'll have to keep this one in mind next time I'm crunching numbers. Happy new year, Hound.

Fe-lady said...

Couldn't agree with you more!
I am currently working on an article for a local bike rag regarding Xterra tris and play...I will let you know how it goes.
We played (and worked our butts off) on a 2 hour mtn bike ride this A.M. But we were still playing-discovering-pushing our limits-challenging ourselves.

I will sleep well tonight!

Donald said...

Especially in light of all the larger troubles in the world, we should never lose sight of the fact that this triathlon stuff is indeed playtime. Thanks for the reminder.

Tri to Be Funny said...

As always, you nailed it!

TriBoomer said...

If only everything were as playful as our sport. One of the nice things about training for the long distance stuff is we get to play for extended recesses. Play on, bro, lest you be sunk.

Stay tuned...

Jane said...

I think you alluded to this when Superpounce did her triathlon and you noticed how the kids were just having a great ol' time in contrast to adults looking uber-serious in transition area. If it's not fun, why bother?

I also totally agree with the motivation - fun to exercise when it's in relation to a race, more difficult, when it's the drudgery of the chore of exercising just to keep fit.

Taconite Boy said...

Well said hounddog.

Tri-Dummy said...

Love that verse.

Also love that Bigun is spouting off on Biblical matters. We may be getting through to him!

Terra said...

GH-
Yep- I will be in Houston this weekend for the marathon. I probably will hangout at start/finish as I am sure I will get lost with all the people. Any recommendations?

Phoenix said...

Thanks, Grey. I needed that.

Whoopee!

supalinds said...

This is exactly what I needed to hear. I am going to be silly today!

momo said...

beautifully written - a wise message for all of us to remember as we head into this new year.

after cda last year, i wrote that to me, its all about fun. me having fun, you playing - cda this year is going to be a BLAST.

happy new year!

triguyjt said...

to be child-like is to be with God.
nice post sir.
have an inspired 08 leading up to your Ironman.

triguyjt and the Motivation Nation.

Lana said...

Dude, I'm diggin' this. I even read it twice and then sent it to my family. You are so right!!! Keep'em coming, man - you're a writer!

tri-mama said...

I'm really enjoying being a kid this second time around... but where is the Blair witch picture?

Triteacher said...

Not to get all Jesussy right back at ya, but Aaa-men, bro!