Sitting at a desk for what seems like eternity, often under the frown of someone with some fairly unreal expectations of what you’re supposed to deliver today… and for no observable reward?! Then, as if that’s not enough, why not take some of that work home with you. Meanwhile your being judged, graded, and picked apart by your peers, some of them who call you ‘friend.’
Damn 4th grade is a bitch! “Stressed out” might not be in the average 9-year-old’s lexicon, but it ain’t all fun and frolic. At this point in history you’re at least a couple of years away from catching your best friend’s brother rolling a joint in front of you, and the closest thing to hormonal demands on the heart, brain and various other anatomical bits is hoping for that clandestine game of truth or dare to force Julie Vessel to kiss me on the cheek.
Oops…. did I switch tenses there? I wonder what happened to Julie. My cheek was never quite the same.
Not a lot of complaints about lower back pain or tension headaches though. So can we adults blame out current obsession with achy bits and joint creeks on age? Heck no. Age is simply the length of time we’ve had to make decisions, and if our choices were poor, that isn’t the fault of chronology, no matter how much we shake a finger at the calendar.
There is an irony that as we age, as the added responsibility of being grown up fills our cells with that elixir of destruction called stress, we also eliminate our release valve. Metaphor alert: MythBusters made a great case for not taking your release valve off of your water heater in one of the best blow-shit-up moments the show ever had:
Our 4th grade self had what could be argued as an equal amount of stress to our adult selves, if we create a relativity formula based on physical size, collected wisdom and overall conscious coping options. So any waxing nostalgic we might do about the pre-teen years would be born from our yearn for those release valves that were available to us when we were hip high to a Grup.
We moved! And unless we had some sort of Bolshevik team coach, no one really told us HOW to move. We knew. We experimented. We explored. We played. Through movement of all varieties and intensities, we released tension.
And we learned.
Recess is strength, mobility and creativity in action, in demand, in flux. Great word, ‘flux.’ Vaguely naughty sounding, yet not. Flux even played a role in the greatest invention of the 20th century: The time-traveling DeLorean.
Playfulness ranks high on the things-that-help-us-NOT-breakdown-through-aging list. Holding onto your youth, or embracing it after a period of not speaking to it is pretty similar to time travel. Recess: our own flux capacitor.
Oh wait, I hear that gossamer vibration of some young strength geek in the back shaking his head. He’s thinking that, at 22 years of age, he’s got years before he has to worry about any of this. He can lift, fuck and fight with the best of them now, and its all serious business, so to him considering training as recess, movement as play, is anti-cool. He’s a grown up now… no need for childishness. Just like mobility is yoga crap for chicks and old people,
Up until his first injury. Might be when he’s 23, might be when he’s 43, but not understanding how the body truly wants to participate in the world will create a physical mutiny at some point.
A switch is flipped, sometime in our lives, where movement turns from joy to obligation, from recess to a workout. Movement, which was the territory of the body, switches to the territory of the brain. The bummer is that movement then switches from being a tension release valve to being just another stress. It becomes a time, a place, a schedule, a routine, a class, an exercise.
What if we brought it back to being a celebration of motion, being able to let the body do, learn and be? Here’s the good news… if our brains have been successful wrapping themselves around the structured adult world of the modern workout, fear not! Successful play is served best from a foundation of structure. We can train for recess. In fact, the categorical protocols from all the years, studies and bodies that have created the shifting world of training science can still play a role in play. So can our favorite tools.
Our over-the-pond buddy Rannoch Donald recently commented on the beauty of true and playful movement being the product of consistent practice. We train to play… but with play as our training! A body wants the effort of conquering obstacles to achieve higher levels of ability, and that it pays off in many ways. The body wants the beauty of the challenge and overcoming it, not just the outcome. I believe that’s what we call strength.
But boy, does the industry offer it up in such an unappealing way, or at least I’m guessing our bodies think so.