Playing Pretend For Real
Too many of the freedoms of childhood slip ever so slowly away as we age. The freedom to play and pretend is perhaps the most precious of all childhood pastimes. As kids, we invent scenarios, have infinite super powers, we scale tall buildings, and discover monsters and medical cures.
Fearless. Inquisitive. Joyful. Focused. Carefree. Imaginative. Innocent. Delighted. In the moment.
When you were a kid, what was your favorite thing to "pretend?"
I just had the great joy of spending a few days in NYC. I do this several times a year and I personally find it very grounding. For 72 hours I am a New Yorker. A city dweller. My hotel is my apartment. I walk everywhere. Experience the neighborhoods, talk to the shop owners, attend the theatre, eat late, watch the people. Absorb the world around me. Really see it. All senses on high alert.
I sit in a cafe. Alone by choice. I think, I listen. I take in the sounds and the pulse and the energy around me. I meet friends and business associates who live in the city and for a few brief moments take in life from their point of view. I know that living in NYC once again is quickly coming to the top of my wish list. Until it gets there, I am simply...playing pretend for real!
As an adult, what is your favorite thing to "pretend?"
One of my best-loved coaching tools is the power of visualization. Unless we can imagine something, really see it, we often have no capacity to move toward whatever it is we want. This ability to capture our dreams on a blank canvas is possibly one of the closest things we have as an adult to our own childhood wonder and imagination. Visualization allows us to pretend in our mind's eye. To dare to think...what if...?
As children, we use our imaginations freely all the time. We allow ourselves to be carried off to another land. We are princesses and warriors and famous characters. This is the stuff that Disney is founded on. Our ability to reinvent who we are, to pretend that we can do magical things, to find solace, and peace, and acceptance, and our rightful place in a world of our dreams permeates our young souls.
As adults, we suffer from the polar opposite. We rarely allow ourselves the time and space to daydream and to wish. We are so focused on being busy in our day. Captivated by our technology and the virtual realities associated with it, we have all but lost the bandwidth to play with the possibilities of what we may most want next. Yes, there is always a next. We evolve and change. No one escapes it. However, not everyone gives themselves permission to change course. To pursue something else. To evaluate just what a refresh would look like. Busy going through the motions of our lives, we forget that our day-to-day is not a rehearsal for another larger event yet to happen. It is the event.
One life. Meant to live...with fearlessness, curiosity, joy, imagination, innocence, abandon and delight! I am not suggesting that we all wear crowns and dress as super heroes but I am so deeply in favor of using visioning and play as a tool in a stressful world to center ourselves and discover what we may have forgotten or perhaps never realized. So just where can we reach back to our childhoods to capture that spark of "pretend in our adult lives?"
In a recent coaching session, a private client was toying with the idea of a possible second home. She was thinking about a weekend house by a lake and when asked to describe it, she basically took me there in her description. So accurate was her vision, that by the time she finished, we were both sitting on the back porch overlooking a glistening lake and reading!
In our continued conversation, my client was actively speaking as if this imagined weekend house was now real. It represented a break from her stressful life.
herself driving there for long weekend, needing to pack nothing because everything she needed was already there. She wanted to bond with nature, row on the lake, read, take in the quiet, and enjoy the change of scenery. So, what was the problem? She was n
ot ready to toy just yet with another mortgage and she felt stuck in not being able to realistically access this retreat that she had created in her mind. She told herself that the costs would be too high, yet in reality she admitted that she could freely afford this dream. The financial "burden" along with the work involved to make this a reality became the obstacle.
Until... I asked her a question she did not ask herself.
How would she feel about
a house on a lake for a week or two this summer? Maybe even trying two different houses and two different locations to be able to further research exactly what she was looking for? Essentially, I indulged her need to play, to escape, and to imagine the possibilities of duel home ownership by presenting her with an adult version of playing pretend. Renting a lake house provided her with the opportunity to play pretend for real. To try it on and try it out. The ability to rent a house or two permits her to step past the financial obstacle and the time commitment that was holding her back from taking action. She can now test drive this next part of her journey!
Where in your life are you playing pretend for real?