A play elevator is like taking a glass elevator out of a lower emotional state up to the place where you can play easily and fluidly in whatever kind of play rings your bells.
Play elevators are everywhere, twinkling at you like power ups in a video game. Here comes one now!
That small child, smiling coquettishly at you, from across the dinner party, or there! Your cat power-snuggling into you and asking you to pause for a moment and be a slave to the silken sweetness of a beloved pet, or there! The silver wind shivering the trees outside your office window, wooing you a little, like the airy lover it is, to come lose yourself within her world of quaking leaves and slipping sunstreams. Or there! That worn paperback tucked away in the dentist office, and something about its worn, soft cover, or the heft of it, hails you, makes you a little curious…you find yourself slowing down as you turn the pages, and begin to slip into the adventure…
We crave whole hearted immersion. And we long to be pressed, bosom to bosom, with all that life is and is becoming, so we play where we can, in whatever playgrounds are open for us.
Having lots of playgrounds (art, music, dancing, playing in food, playing in love, etc) will up the chances of getting whisked away on a play elevator. These open portals support and buoy you.
A playground is simply a mental framework for understanding a place in your life where you like to play.
When I hit a bump in life, it’s soothing and helpful to think, “oh, my lover playground wants more love, than to think, ‘I’m crap at this romance thing.”’
It’s easiest, and funnest, as you begin to reopen your playgrounds, to just ratchet back the self-judgment about what shape your playgrounds are in or how much booze you have to ingest before you feel brave enough to fling wide the doors at dawn. Whatever.
Most of our misalignment stems from having trouble with relaxing, and no one relaxes when they’re getting yelled at, so don’t start in on yourself.
As you clear out more and more of your central playgrounds, you’ll feel better and better about you, and your journey, and will remember, how on track and truly darling you are. Just enjoy the ride. It’s why you came.
go play it open:
Next time you’re in a clear space, brainstorm where your play elevators are (hint: if you have kids, they’re a GOLDMINE) and keep these in mind as you go through your day. They’ll help you come back to yourself.
If you want a deeper feels for how this process goes, here’s a story of me accidentally taking a play elevator back up to my Essential Self.
Play Elevator Story #1
The fire is open because it needs more air. I’m clutching at my notebook, stuck and ornery, trying to cheer myself up by tearing whole states out of the atlas and feeding them to the fire. One month old Darcy, warming like a pink slug beside the fire, is deep in conversation with the checks on his blanket. Sam, Sophie and Frankie are crouched low to the wooden floor TOTALLY immersed in their play, where on blank pieces of paper, they’re drawing homes for their tic tac-sized animals.
They’re actually designing the kind of homes that would please themselves most. Sam’s is dance-room laden, and Sophie’s is a series of waterfalls and candy-filled ball pits, with lots of tvs and pandas.
Next, they position their homes onto the maps scattered about the cabin, and are happily traveling around the country to visit each other, having parties, bringing gifts while I sit, with unmoving pen to paper, wishing I could feel a fraction of their “play-ee-ness”. I opt for the observer experience w/ play, (as part of my ongoing project to get better at being happy) and just start writing. Just this page. Just whatever comes. Just anything.
Immediately I can’t help but notice that, all things considered, I like where I am. This is a cozy scene and I sure am in fine company, even if I am jealous of said fineness, it’s still good, and it feels good to be aware of it. I like the lazy play sprawl, the naked cooing baby, the roaring fire eating one state at a time. My mind warms a little, but I still can’t get IN, into that effortless place of flow (and me noticing I’m not IN hurls me OUR further still). I still feel one tenuous fart away from serious fuss and discontent. Why won’t my pen wake me, break me or allow me some kind of access?
Then Frankie asks me to come for a visit.
To her house.
Only there is no house. There is a nearly blank sheet of paper with some crazy lookin’ lines and a teeny, tiny glass ladybug sitting in the middle.
Oh goodness. How does one go about “visiting” that? What does she mean by “visit”? I’m nervous, and want to duck like in gym class where the gym teacher asks you to demonstrate how to climb the rope to the ceiling and you’re not even sure how to get on the damn thing. I want to mumble something about needing to do something else, but let’s be honest, if I had anything else that I wanted to be doing I’d be doing it and I’m just desperate enough to say yes, I mean, why not?
Tentatively I move my hand towards her paper. She lunges and cries out as my hand nears the page. I jerk my hand away as if from a stove. I want to cry. But she pets my hand and gently turns the paper around. “It’s okay Mom. Here’s the door.”
Now I REALLY want to cry. But this time from relief. A door. A door.
She’d cried out because I’d almost knocked down one of her house walls. But now I know where the door is. I walk my two fingers up and rap out a note of greeting. Lady Bug welcomes me, warmly. I walk in and am surprised to discover that I feel a little horsey. Maybe it’s the sound my nails make on the wood, but my fingers seem to want to gallop.
So, gallup I do. Lady Bug immediately whips around says sternly “No galloping on the right side of the house.” I giggle, thrilled. Remembering so fully how much I love the possibility of naughtiness.
Still with the long slender horsey legs, I try out a little saunter. Lady Bug turns out to be a gracious and thorough hostess. I enjoy sashaying around behind her while she points out the highlights, “tuna room” “cuddle pod” “movie theater w/ rope swings and climbing walls.” I feel curious about these things in a way that feels new and old at the same time. I used to be this curious all the time. Wow.
I really want to know what she’s done with the place. I like the light feeling of curiosity and I want more of what I’m beginning to really like about being here. She asks me to ice skate, and out of nowhere a funny voice sails from my mouth, a whole character actually, with a British accent. It’s a cantankerous pair of legs who wants to be pampered and eat lots of TOP QUALITY cheese.
I’m thrilled with myself, off and running on a witty and spree. The other kids invite me over like I’m a celebrity and I throw several TOP QUALITY fits to the delight of us all. Sam invites us all to a free contra/break dance under his new disco ball. I feel a sudden urge to make a paper tutu first. It slows things down a bit, but I am relishing the feeling of wanting to do something for no productive reason. In my new tutu, we dance. I like figuring out how legs contra/break dances. She’s horrible, and I end up flipping my hand upside down while all the kids jump their hands up and down on mine while legs screams she is “not your local bouncy house! LOW QUALITY BOLLUCKS!”
I love Legs.
After such top quality fun, I return here, to this page, and marvel at my early fuss. It’s totally gone. What EXACTLY had my knickers been in such a twist about? I can’t remember. Before my play immersion, I’d been wondering about the distinguishing characteristics of play, but now, from this vantage, I absolutely know. Play moves you towards YOU, the real you, the happy, powerful, clear you. It does this by regulating your focus, and bringing you up your emotional guidance scale. I was happy. I could see again. I’d just taken the accidental play elevator up.
Play is an elevator to your true self.