A playful person is suspicious, especially as they age beyond youth. Yet it is constantly apparent that play not only balances a person in difficult times, but brings a lasting element to survival.
When I went to my first chemo session, I was terrified and yet playful. I had brought some "glasses" which were made of the same material as the "glowing" necklaces kids bring to rock concerts - you bend the tube and the neon element in the item begins to glow.
The friend who accompanied me and I set to freeing the neon just after the oncology nurse had "hooked me up", and the toxic chemotherapy fluid was racing through my veins.
"Marybeth, could you ask the doctor to come to my room?"
In walked the doc, and he wondered what was up. He thought I had a question about the therapy, and had a huge belly laugh when I said,
"Doc, I think it's working!"
In all of the remaining sessions I underwent I brought a sense of play to the nurses, the doctors, and the cancer Center. Playfulness spreads, and one finds that some others are willing to participate.
The real sadness is when one discovers that some people never learned how to play, or never released their playful spirit. Some were denied playfulness by parents or nannies, or dutiful teachers.
It is 5 years since I went through chemotherapy, and then I did radiation, and gradually weaned myself from the intense fear of recurrence. It may come; it may not. What I do know is that I will keep my playful spirit, because it can be called on in crisis to 'leaven the loaf" and guide the spirit.
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