I love birthdays because they remind us to have fun. For my forty-fourth, I decided to celebrate with four different activities.
The most well-attended was puppet making in the park. To pull this off, it helps to have a mom who makes puppets and has a studio full of colorful supplies, from yarn to fabric to sequins. Awakening people’s liveliness takes little more than setting the plastic bins full of crafty goodness on a picnic table and inviting everyone to begin.
No one hesitated. No one claimed she wasn’t creative. Everyone simply picked up a paper bag or a toilet paper roll and began to construct a being that had never existed before. We had dogs and cats, a mythical rainbow animal and a magician, even a fellow who could raise his bushy purple eyebrows.
When it came time to leave, every guest said, “That was so much fun.”
Our culture often limits fun, both in importance and variety. As adults, we’re told that our responsibilities take priority over our play time and that only a few forms of play are acceptable, some of them more harmful than enjoyable.
But fun is a powerful force. It awakens our souls. It puts us in touch with God’s creativity flowing through us, and so it connects us to our selves, to our divinity.
We are the result of God having a great time. The Big Bang did not arise from a sense of obligation. When divinity decided to have a party about fourteen billion years ago and see what this existence thing was all about, a great outpouring of love and joy set this universe in motion.
That outpouring hasn’t stopped. We are the current manifestation of the divine party that has always been and will always be. Let’s have some fun.
It has been my turn this week to host some of the viruses whose purpose appears to be to slow down human beings by making their heads stuffy, so please allow me to share a poem instead of a regular post. This is by the Sufi poet Hafiz and seems apropos for where we find ourselves these days. Printed in The Gift, translated by Daniel Ladinsky.
If God Invited You to a Party
Invited you to a party
In the ballroom tonight
Will be my special
How would you then treat them
And Hafiz knows
There is no one in this world
Is not upon
His Jeweled Dance
I almost subjected you to deep thoughts this week. Nothing cures unnecessary deep thoughts like a good party, and no one throws a better party than Central Coast Soccer. I highly recommend parties over deep thoughts. First of all, there’s more food. Second of all, people are enjoying themselves.
Here is what I love about CCSoccer: it is coed; we don’t keep score; the league asks anyone who is too aggressive to leave; newcomers to the game are welcomed, encouraged, and passed to; everyone on the team having fun trumps playing the best possible game. This truly recreational atmosphere is as rare as a cheerful Woody Allen movie, one out of every few thousand.
Here is what I love about the CCSoccer party: it takes a moment to recognize people because they’ve blow-dried their hair and no one is sweaty. Greetings resemble those between long-lost friends whether people haven’t seen each other for a year or they just played together Wednesday night. Everyone brings their kids, who get to run around and play and be kids. Stealing during the white elephant gift exchange is merciless. The food is really good.
The attitude of the league creates the ambience of the party. The members of this community have practiced not taking one another too seriously, and all the time they’ve spent together, they’ve spent doing something they love—a rare combination.
I don’t know the details of these people’s lives the way I know those of my closest friends or family members, but whether I only exchange hellos with someone or the conversation continues through year-in-review updates, seeing each person cheers me. The smiles and hugs throughout the room make it clear others feel the same way.
If the spirit of the holiday season includes welcoming, supporting, and enjoying those around us, this group is ready to celebrate.