A Time to Play

“We are always getting ready to live but never living.” –Ralph Waldo Emerson

“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” –Buddha

“Do not worry about tomorrow.” –Jesus

I really don’t do resolutions. Always thought they were just, as has been posted often online in the last two days, a clear road to hell. And yet, I do believe in change. I believe that perhaps the greatest gift that life offers us is the ability to become something other than what we have been in the past. So, in that vein, I can change my approach to resolutions even though I’ve spurned them in the past.

The boy loves Buzz and Woody; have I mentioned this? If not, here’s a good reminder:

Best Friends Forever

So, of course, we love Buzz and Woody, too. But perhaps my reason for loving these two T-O-Y-S isn’t as clear as it need be. It goes back to my own childhood, and like any child of the 70s toys came to life in the latter part of the decade with the advent of the Holy Trinity: Star Wars.

Truthfully, there isn’t much that I can say about Star Wars that hasn’t been said better by Kevin Smith, except perhaps that as someone who grew up in a small town, the movies we never as important as the toys. As hard as it is to image today, when Star Wars finally made it to the Boro in (I believe) 1978, I only saw it once in the theaters. I of course wanted to see it more, but dad thought it was silly to see a movie twice. So it didn’t happen. Remember this was about 10 years before the advent of a VCR (at least in our house); thus, the only way to see a movie twice was to convince your dad to pay for it twice. This was not something I was easily able to do.

Instead I read the novelization, the comics, and when I had saved enough money from my weekly allowance of a whopping $0.50, I would rush to Roses, or if I was lucky, Woolworths to buy one the Luke Skywalker action figures with the wrap-around sheet shirt, and yellow light saber with the tip that retracted.

Use the Force, Luke

This little toy, along with a Stormtrooper, Darth Vader, Han Solo, and Chewbacca, (No Leia, of course. These were “action figures” never “dolls.”) I recreated scenes from the movie, and wrote in my head, thousands of adventures for these guys. These toys, combined with a few pieces of twine, resulted in Luke invading Darth’s hideout behind the bed to wipe out the evil Sith Lord by swinging over the treacherous blades of death hanging from the ceiling. Han and Chewy were always there atop the encyclopedias waiting to rush in if Luke should get trapped by the Stormtrooper!

Watching the abandon with which Matthew plays with Buzz and Woody takes me back to those hours that I somehow put aside as I approached my teen years. Although I’m sure putting away childish things was a necessary part of growing up (there are many “geeks” who claim that the toys never go away, they just get more expensive), I’m worried that I also lost something when I did. And not just something that’s okay to lose. I think I lost that ability to be lost in the moment, to live in the now. And I want it back.

When we play, as children at least, everything else disappears. Our guilt over the past drops away. Our fear of the future fades into the background. There are no bills, or leaky faucets, or service engine lights.  The barrier of autism that separates me from my little boy disappears.

All that is left is the moment. The now. And such is a gift too precious to lose. It is all that we actually have.

So this year, because it’s all that I actually have any influence over, I’m going to play. I’m not going to dwell in the past. I’m going to not fear the multitude of futures that might be waiting. As Matthew walks down, grabs my hand and tugs me to where he’s playing, I’m gonna go. You wanna come play, too?

"Children see magic because they look for it." --Christopher Moore, Lamb: The Gospel according to Biff, Jesus' childhood pal.