Wednesday, July 30, 2008

A Little Work, A Little Play

I remembered something important today -- how much fun it is to play.
I'm not sure what puts me into such a nose-to-the-grindstone mood. Maybe it's guilt: I have so many opportunities I'd better make the most of them. Maybe it's achievement hunger: I want to do something that matters, and I want to do it well. Or maybe it's just habit: I get into the routine of doing what needs to be done, and there is always something that needs to be done.
I enjoy the things I do, even -- shhh, the cleaning -- but after awhile things are so predictable I even bore my own self.
Play is unpredictable and not boring. It's exploring, it's adventuring, it's having fun seeing and hearing and doing something we enjoy. Usually play is creative, fresh, fulfilling.
Sometimes work is like play, usually when singing is involved, but if there is too much work and not enough play, it can be hard to keep on singing.
So today I went exploring. I drove through a part of the local countryside I haven't driven through for a long time, and admired the crops growing so lushly in the fields. I honked at a field full of black-and-white cattle. I stopped at a new store in a little town near our home, The Main Street Mercantile, and explored their store, indulged in lunch.
The Main Street Mercantile is charming, specializing in what my husband would call primitive country (not his favorite, although I like it!) You'll find handcrafted furniture, pictures, candles, wreaths, cards, linens, even toys from Melissa and Doug. There is a whole line of foodstuff -- preserves and jams, flours, popcorn, trail mixes, noodles and more.
Lunch is served at the back of the store in a cozy dining area, and carry-out is available. I had a made-to-order roast beef sandwich (delicious and filling) served with potato chips, and a peach smoothie --worth going back for all by itself!
So why did this little side trip through the country fill me up and give me fresh enthusiasm for my everyday work? Because seeing something new stirs up new things in me. Being around the creative work someone else has done, even if that creative work is planting and nurturing a good crop, is stimulating.
I believe God is creative, and that He made us in His image. We are meant to be creative people one way or another, incorporating that creativity into even our most everyday tasks, but also being open always to the possibility of other creative work.
Work and play are two sides of the same coin, I think; we're meant to spend ourselves in creating something true, something honorable, something right. We're meant to incorporate purity and loveliness into our lives, and that requires creativity. We are meant to be busy with excellence, whether that is simply creating a lovely, orderly home where the people we love can live and thrive, or creating an altogether original something else.
That takes work, but it takes play, too.


Speaking of creativity, it's a handy thing to use in managing a household. I wrote about this in a column for Hearts at Home that appeared in The Pantagraph, and it's being reprinted on the Hearts at Home website here.

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