What I ‘discovered in play’ this summer

to my friends

Ah, summer is nearly over and school is about to start. No more lazy days and late sunsets and playing outside after dark… because we’ve all got places to be in the morning.

Right now–because I’m a parent, and because I work for an education nonprofit that takes the summers off from classes–this shift from slow summer do-nothing days to the fast-paced go-go-go of fall is still very much the rhythm of my life.

And, while I’ll admit to having a harder time with transitions than many of the four-year-olds I know, these last liminal days between seasons–when we’re neither here nor there in our lives, but just waiting–are always, somehow, some of my favorite.

So in honor of this bittersweet feeling, here is my list of

Things I Discovered in Play This Summer:

It was an awesome summer, by the way. One of my favorites.

1) Rainer Marie Rilke. How is it that I never read Rilke before this summer? Maybe I just wasn’t ready.

“Have patience with everything that remains unsolved in your heart. Try to love the questions themselves, like locked rooms and like books written in a foreign language. The answers cannot now be given to you because you could not live them. It is a question of experiencing everything. At present you need to live the question. Perhaps you will gradually find yourself experiencing the answer.” -Rilke

If you read Rilke, start with his letters. His language is beautiful and his words and wisdom are so true, and often painfully hard won. I connected with some of his lines in such a tactile way, I wanted to pull the words right off the page and squish them up in my hands like clay, to fully impress them into my body.*

I understand he is also quite the amazing poet.

*I reeeeaaaallly love words. Your reading experience may vary. ;)

2) Ralph Eugene Meatyard. An amazing photographer. I discovered his works during an all-day (adult) play date at the Art Institute of Chicago. An optometrist working in Lexington, Kentucky–who originally took up photography as a hobby, like many parents do, to take photos of his children–his works are surreal, literary, personal and so far ahead of his time. The way he uses tropes like masks and dolls and children… to my mind, his photos should be creepy. But they’re not. They’re oddly beautiful. Just magic.

In this New York Magazine review, published back in 2005, Meatyard’s friend, poet-scholar Guy Davenport calls Meatyard’s photographs, “short stories that have never been written.” Mmmmm. So good.

3) Play is whatever you make it. Just be sure you take the time to make it. I kind of lost myself in my first few overwhelming, sleepless years of motherhood. Anything I might have wanted (even a few quiet minutes alone) seemed to pale in comparison to the awesome and very real responsibility of growing, feeding and nurturing another human being. But these days I’m definitely getting myself–and my sense of play–back. This summer was a lot about that. There are certain things in life that make me smile just thinking about them. So now I make the time to do them. I know, in the long run, this makes me a happier person–which has to then make me a better parent.

4) I have some really wonderful, beautiful (and yes, fun!) people in my life–friends–who hear me and ‘get’ me and know me and understand me, people who have experienced me at my best and my worst and still love me anyway. That’s pretty amazing.

5) Possibly, I know all the words to just about every Dave Matthews Band song ever written, AND I can successfully use them in both casual conversation and as formal literary references. (How’s that for hardcore!?) Also I’m pretty much convinced, the meanings of life, love and happiness can all be described by remembering the lyrics to DMB songs.

6) Hot saki is just generally a bad idea… But picnics (with Stravinsky, at Ravinia) are very, very good. People make both ice cream and margaritas out of my favorite fruit, the avocado. Orange Fanta, toasted pb&j and Waffle House egg sandwiches (with pickles!) are all just as goood as I remembered. There is such a thing as frozen mango kefir–and it is divine! And I NEED my very own deluxe built-in cappuccino maker in my kitchen. I just… need one.

Starfruit Cafe frozen kefir stand at DMB Caravan Chicago

7) (Mindfully) playing through your worries and problems can help you ‘grow up’ in a lot of ways, even if you’re already a grown-up. And it’s more fun than therapy.

So friends, what did you discover in play this summer? I hope it was wonderful.

Here’s to many more discoveries for us all, many opportunities to follow your passions, only the best in life–and, wherever and however you find it, much much happiness.

© Jaime Greenberg and discovered in play, 2011

3 thoughts on “What I ‘discovered in play’ this summer

  1. YES!!!! I love everything about this post. What a wise, playful, ridiculously lovely person you are! I will work on my list of “what I discovered in play this summer” and encourage everyone to do the same. Imagine what we could learn from each other. Mmmmmmmm egg sandwiches with pickles….

    • Aw, Susan, I love you too! :D
      I can’t wait to read your list!!!

      I would sincerely love to read *everyone’s* lists. Please post here and let me know what you discovered in play this summer! (don’t be shy ;)

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