The Coffee Contemplations : Vol. XIII – Play Begets Wisdom

I’m going to tell you a short story.


On Sunday March 1st, I was running late to everything… we woke up a hair too late. I was five minutes late to my class. I was late to the train… I had purchased tickets to attend a Kundalini Yoga immersion at Yoga Tree in the Castro in San Francisco. Even though I was late with catching the BART, I had my bike and felt pretty confident I would make it on time. I’d never biked through the city, but enjoyed riding through the craziness in all white, turban and flowing skirt, in the beautiful sunshine. I went to turn left and as I crossed the Muni tracks (seriously – track crashes are a thing), my front tire got caught and I went down.. hard. My all white quickly became imprinted with chain grease and road dust. I landed on one knee, tearing a hole in my leggings and quickly staining them with blood. Blessed with no traffic, I looked at my hand and embedded in my palm were small pebbles and debris from the road and was immediately transported to this feeling of being 12 years old and falling off my bike while chasing the ice cream truck. I started to giggle as this pair of older gentlemen asked if I was ok – both slightly shocked by my gracelessness – and assisted me to the side of the road. I smiled and told them I was absolutely OK – if anything, it was funny. I hadn’t felt that young in years.

I made it to the Kundalini workshop about ten minutes late and the front desk graciously provided me with band aids and gauze so I could at least cover my wound. I walked in just as the warm up began. Though my kneed had been burning, and has been since, that two and a half hours of yoga and meditation removed me completely from the experience of my fall and the physical pain and dropped me into a youthful curiosity for the whole workshop.

Monday – the next day – was Dr. Seuss’s 111th birthday. I couldn’t believe how auspicious that seemed to be. Immediately following a crash that transported me back to my youth, my Facebook feed, Instagram, and thereby day was swarming with Dr. Seuss quotes and drawings. Marveling in his wisdom and his ability to communicate so many profound lessons to children had me coming up joyful. I sat and wondered who is writing children’s books now and are they able to convey such profound realities and truths as the racism in the Star Bellied Sneetches or depression and isolation as reflected in How the Grinch Stole Christmas? Lessons of loving our Mother Earth and being her advocate like The Lorax? Those are big lessons made sweet and simple for all of us to continue to learn from…

I realized – through both the Dr. Seussisms and my crashing into childhood- that play begets wisdom. Dr. Seuss was the master of this concept. He wrote playfully to share and imbue all children with wisdom.. and for many of us who grew up with his books as staples in the toy chest, those lessons have stuck as rhymes and poems we can still recite. As children, we learn through play. We learn how to share and feel empathy, how to access our own desires and communicate ideas, and how to have compassion and respond to feedback from our playmates. We learn our place within community and how to develop our tribe – a skill for developing the interdependence that is required as adults attempting to build a safe and fulfilling world. And youthfulness is also about resilience. About falling off your bike, marveling at the fall, and riding on. It’s about allowing others to provide you with assistance so you can begin to instantly allow wounds to heal. In experiencing both playfulness and resilience, we find our innate wisdom. We begin to remember what we came to know as 12 year olds.

Wisdom doesn’t have to be hard. It shouldn’t always come from deep silent reflection or sourced from the basement shelves of the library – buried in books long forgotten. Sometimes, we need to let go completely. We need to dance, tell terrible jokes, belly laugh until it hurts, make mud pies, fall off our bikes, chase ice cream trucks… We need to regain our innate wisdom through play. Through whimsy.

Perhaps this is all also connected to the fact that tomorrow is my 28th birthday… but it’s valid nonetheless. All my yoga classes this week have resulted in a dance party – and in that release of structure to free play, I hope we can all find ourselves – our true selves – which have been hiding out under our “workfulness”.

Play friends. Play.

“Today you are you! It’s truer than true! There’s no one in the world that is you-er than YOU!”



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