Take Time To Play

Reprinted from PN October 2012

You may think your life has changed for the worse. But in the midst of all that is going on, take time to play every day, even if it's just for a little while.

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Open a Reader’s Digest and you’ll find a column that has been running for more than 50 years called “Laughter, the Best Medicine.”

One of my favorite authors, Mark Victor Hansen, has a series of books presenting humorous and uplifting tales sent in from people all over the world. The title of these books is Chicken Soup for the Soul.

In the movie Patch Adams, Robin Williams plays a doctor who believes that by making his patients laugh, he can provide some therapeutic service to them. He also did this in real life for one of his best friends who sustained a spinal-cord injury (Hint: He used to wear blue tights on the big screen).

I’m paraphrasing here, and hope the meaning isn’t lost: “Do you love life? Then do not squander time. For that’s what life is made of.”

Those words were immortalized by one of my favorite U.S. founding fathers, Benjamin Franklin. Now, there are those who would say fun time, or recreation, is another word for wasting time. I couldn’t disagree more.

No Waste of Time

I submit that if more people recognized the importance of good quality recreation, a lot of ills in this world would cease to exist. Certainly, you don’t have to explain that concept to the NFL, NBA, or, my favorite, Major League Baseball.

Why, just drive around your hometown on any Saturday morning and you might see fields full of children and young adults playing some game or another, with parents and other family members on the sidelines yelling and cheering. Some may also be cooking hot dogs, some drinking sodas, but if you were to ask, none would tell you they were “wasting time.”

It comes as no surprise to me that having fun or recreation is a part of my life crises advice. Why? Maybe I have learned what the above people knew all along.

You may also find many doctors writing about the importance of recreation during a person’s physical rehabilitation phase after a major accident or trauma.

However, I have only seen the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) actually implement this. This is not to say other rehabilitation facilities don’t have this component, but I have not seen it. And, to be honest, I have only been to two other facilities.

Actual Playtime

Yes — there is a recreation room, but that is not the same thing. What I am talking about is actual playtime, fun, interactive enjoyment. I enjoy chess, backgammon, Scrabble, and other board games, but those are saved for rainy days or recuperation times.

They may also be a good method of introducing the recreational concept to yourself if you are weary of anything more physical. But after a while, I recommend you get outside for some real fun.

I love going to my nephew’s
football and soccer games, seeing the latest superhero movie, watching the Anaheim Angels fight their way to a World Series, hitting a sports bar when the New England Patriots are playing, or just heading out to a
restaurant for a great steak or my favorite cioppino.

I did all those things before my accident, and I have come to realize  my wheelchair need not prevent me from doing them today.

Find the Time

What I learned is simple. Life was meant to be enjoyed, first and foremost. I realize it is quite possible that during this crisis you may become depressed.

That’s when you must find the time to have some fun. “Yeah, right,” you say. So did I. But I was dragged out to sushi, barbecue, burgers, and ballgames by one therapist. Forced to go out to a restaurant, go shopping, and cook a meal by another. Brought my favorite food by my friends, and was even delivered takeout by other folks. 

It may drive your wife and nutritionist crazy, but just learn to keep all these things in moderation. Along with this, you must maintain a proper diet. Get your fiber, vegetables, protein, and vitamins. Drink enough water each day. Read about your condition and related issues.

But along with that, grab a pizza with friends, catch a Spiderman flick, take part in games with your family. If you have no sons or daughters, then play with your nieces and nephews.

Deal With It

When you awoke from your accident or surgery, your life had changed forever. Understand that. It wasn’t your life is about to change, or going to change. It wasn’t “Would you like your life to change?” It was “Your life has changed.” Now you have to deal with it.

You may think your life has changed for the worse; you may even think it might be over as you know it. I would like to submit to you to just work through everything one step at a time.

There are many facets of rebuilding your life that you may not have even seen yet. However, in the midst of all that is going on, remember one thing along with everything else.

Take time to play every day, even if it’s for just a little while. I promise you, in the midst of all that is happening right now, it’s possible to find a reason to smile and to laugh. And it’s the best medicine.  


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