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In my experience, playing heals mild depression. Oddly enough, a young seagull taught me this lesson.
Once, in my late thirties,I went through a period of feeling particularly low, nothing seemed to pull me out of a deep sense of general gloom. It was a late February afternoon, the rain had temporarily ceased, and I thought a walk on the beach might clear my head.
Many gulls circled over head, sailing on the ocean breezes. I noticed one brown speckled gull drop something and went to investigate. It turned out to be a wine bottle cork. I picked it up. Glancing upwards, I saw this same gull circling close by. On a whim,I tossed the cork high up in the air. The gull dove and caught it. He (she?) dropped it and caught it in mid air a few times, then missed again and the cork landed on the sand a second time very near me.
Okay. My curiosity was kindled. Would this gull continue? I snatched up the cork and threw it high in the air again. Sure enough, the same gull swooped down and snagged it, once more dropping and catching the cork as he swirled in the air. We engaged in this activity for close to a half an hour.
There was no doubt in my mind. The adolescent gull was playing with me! I started laughing. My depression lifted immediately and I went home with a whole new perspective, filled with joy.
The memory of this very special day still feeds my soul.