Game Time

I love the way kids turn the most ridiculous things into games and contests. It’s never just “let’s play with sidewalk chalk.” It’s always seeing who can draw the longest line, or who can jump between two circles drawn far apart, or even “who can get the most chalk dust in their hair,” like my kids seem to do.

This is everything. “Look how far I can climb,” followed immediately by “wait, I can go even higher!” Breaking limit after limit, record after record. Turning it all into achievements.

It’s so good. They don’t wait for anyone else to impose standards on them, or tell them what the correct thing they should be measuring is. It’s totally ad hoc; they just take the thing they already wanted to do and then turn it into an accomplishment worthy of admiration. No one tells them “really great athletes could jump across that creek.” They jump across the creek, and then declare themselves great athletes for having done so.

Why in the world do we give that up?

Why would you ever trade that for the shallow approval of others, for the standards society sets for you? Don’t. Don’t ever.

Pick a thing you want to do and turn it into a game. Bet yourself that you can do better than before. Declare yourself great after each new thing you do. So what if it lacks direction? Direction doesn’t always equal purpose. “Down” is a direction, too.

So often as adults we forget how to even start doing stuff. How to get excited about things. How to embrace not being good at them right away. How to turn learning the basics into a game that’s fun to play, instead of a source of frustration we’re trying to get past.

What game will you play today?

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