Sunday floats like a buoy,
marking shallow water
at the edge of a bar revealed
when the tide is low.

It is always surprising how far
you can walk out on that bar
and how easy it is to get lost
in a tide pool world:
tiny tadpoles dashing,
spindly purple sea urchins
clinging to rock,
starfish wedged into crevices.

I still have these memories:
times when I could play for hours
refusing the call to return.
I still have that yearning
for an endless Sunday,
for a day free from duties,
in a body free of pain,
with a heart free of worry,
and a mind free of plans. 

I still remember how quickly
the tide returns, how rapidly
the passage back to land cuts off,
how forcefully the undertow
grabs at my feet, and how powerfully
the heart pounds at risking
the slippery rock on the narrow ledge
with one last chance to make it back
to safety before all is lost.

I learned my lesson.

Sunday comes with longing
for a return to innocent times.
But the skill to shrug off responsibility,
to play full out or party hearty
has been tainted with dread
at the consequences of a cavalier attitude.

Now, I cling to the rocks,
reserving my play only to spindly tentacles
dancing in the water, welcoming Sunday
as merely a lessening of pressure
though the overwhelm never quite recedes.

So it was with another morning walk,
chilled in the dawning breeze,
camera ready to catch
the colored hues of sunrise,
seeking a perfect shot.
The list of life demands I left behind
haunted me, rushed my feet,
urged me to move on,
to get off a few good snaps,
and then get back to real life
before the tide comes in.

I am back at home typing up the moment,
labeling it properly, so it can be
stored away with all the rest. Now,
I can get on with what really matters…

but I can’t quite shake the sense
that my heart has shattered
into a thousand pieces left in the world
now being swept out to sea by the undertow.

Social convention in Western culture has instilled each day with its own special feeling. Although the concept of weekdays and "weekend" is a recent addition, this division is deeply ingrained in our collective psyche. Sabbath (Saturday) as a day of rest has a long tradition dating back to Babylonian times. Christians moved the day of rest from the seventh day of the week, Saturday, to the first day, Sunday, around the 15th century. The industrial revolution regimented the work week, which evolved into our current custom. On a side note, Sabbath is also the source for sabbatical as a year off, which was granted to university professors once every 7 years.

I was not raised in a religion. Some among my childhood friends were obligated to go to church on Sunday. That meant dressing up and being on their best behavior while those of us who did not have to do so could play.  Weekends, both Saturday and Sunday, for me were an unbroken unit. I tagged along to church a few times when invited by friends. I was awestruck by the grandeur of a cathedral and the pomp of the ceremony, but also uncomfortable with the formality of dressing up and following the cues of sitting, standing, reciting, singing, sitting, etc.

The tide pool incident happened as a teenager on a Sunday beach trip with friends when we stayed out on the rocks too long. The tide seemed to rush in and we had to fight the pull of the ocean on our way back to the shore. I was truly frightened, but not quite traumatized. I can't put the blame for my workaholic tendency on that one incident, but I am sure something in my relationship to play changed on that day.

Here is the funny thing: my work as a trainer is mostly on weekends. Perhaps that is why I have so much fun--it is also play time!

What is your relationship to play?
How has it changed since childhood?

© Nick LeForce
All Rights Reserved

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