Summer in the country is different than summer in the city. It’s slower, fresher, both contemplative and adventurous. I have lived most of my life in a city. My husband grew up in the country with wide open spaces and days upon days of nature adventures. For the past ten days we have been enjoying summer in the country on the coast of Newfoundland where there are plenty of opportunities to chase butterflies, rescue beached jellyfish, and hunt for treasure on the sandy shore. It is paradise. The next few posts will be about our time here.
We were 90 minutes into our whale-watching tour in the Atlantic off the coast of Bonavista Newfoundland when my 7 year old daughter and her 5 year old cousin began to get bored. My daughter decided that she wanted to play monkey in the middle but since they didn’t have a ball that they would use an invisible ball. My mom and brother took turns playing with them as they tossed a pretend ball to each other.
The rules were agreed upon that when you clutched your hand around the invisible ball you had caught it, so whoever clutched their hand first could then throw it back. Despite there not being any verifiable way of determining who caught the ball, there was a friendly respect for each other and for the fun of the game as opposed to a focus on winning.
Although seeing whales is a rare and awesome experience, I think the kids had more fun playing with the invisible ball than watching the whales.
As adults, sometimes we put so much energy and expectation into big events or planning experiences for our children that we think they will love but the real joy and beauty happens in the unexpected smaller moments that we might miss if we aren’t paying attention. My mom is a great example of someone who never lost touch of her inner child. She has a child’s eyes for noticing these small moments and seizing opportunities for play whenever possible, always following the child’s lead.
If you don’t have a ball, pretend you do and a whole new kind of game will emerge.
I love the expression “make believe”. While it describes a kind of children’s play that involves pretending and acting out scenarios, it also means something so much deeper. I see it as a process of using our imagination to create our own realities where imagination is not opposite to what is “real”, but integral to defining it.
If we slow down to notice life around us, we get to decide when to catch that invisible ball. If we believe in ourselves, in how we see the world and in our expression of ourselves in the world, it is true. Belief makes it so.