“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”

Last night I set my alarm with plenty of time for a coffee run to Dunkin’s and a hunt for the best viewing for the St. Patrick’s Day parade. When the alarm rudely woke me up, I looked out the window, saw snow, turned off the alarm and promptly went back to sleep. It’s more than a dusting but not a whole lot more. It must have been wet snow at first as the walk, driveway and street have a layer of  slush which froze a bit. I couldn’t find my newspaper then I noticed it had slid all the way down the driveway and was a lump covered with snow. Right now it is 33° and winter. The rest of the week will be in the 50’s and spring.

The sun is desperately trying to come out right now, and the warmer air is melting the snow off the roof. I can see drops falling onto the deck. My dance card is empty today so I don’t really care about the weather.

There was no cryptogram in today’s Cape paper, and I was bummed. Being a creature of habit, it is one of my morning rituals. Solving it each day means I still have some reasoning power left which gives me comfort as my memory is spotty.

The sun has just appeared. It won the battle. I’d like to think I helped!

The snow has dampened any sound and kept people inside their houses. My neighborhood is quiet. Where I grew up had hundreds of kids or at least it always seemed that way. They were everywhere, and it was seldom quiet. That was in the day when families had lots of kids. You never wanted for a playmate or a friend. The little girls played house or dolls sitting on the back steps or on the grass while the boys played any noisy game they could concoct. We older kids roller skated, rode our bikes or walked around town. Saturdays, of course, found us at the matinée. We never seemed to run out of things to do.

My neighborhood has a lot of kids now. The family down the street just had their 4th, their first girl. At another house, they had their third, another boy, a few months back. The house next door has three but one is in high school. Their youngest is almost five. The only time I see any of these kids is when they’re on a walk with one parent or the other. Other than that, they’re in their yards playing. Long gone are the days of roaming or bike riding all over town. I still go to a Saturday matinée every now and then, but the best parts are gone. Nobody throws things like JuJu Beads and not a single couple makes out in the back rows. Where’s the fun gone?

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14 Comments on ““We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.””

  1. Bob Says:

    I don’t have to do cryptograms to check that my brain is still working, I just go to work every day and try to keep up with all the new advances. Remembering other people’s names while conversing with a person who’s name I did remember is the one cognitive function that I know has deteriorated with age. This is a typical conversation. “You remember that fellow, (pause) what’s his name, (pas use) he used to fly for that oil company, you know the biggest one in (pause) Midland”. It’s that kind of conversation which is filled with mental images of faces without names that makes me crazy. Someone once told me that green tea helps preserve memory. He said its like Viagra for your brain.

    I disagree with your title. Lot’s of senior citizens play they just don’t act silly anymore. After retiring one can act silly because they don’t have to please anyone, like an employer, other than themselves. Lot’s of retirees play golf, cards or shuffle board. After my father retired he would sport a beard or long hair and no one cared. He just couldn’t act silly he only could look silly.

    Today I am waiting around for the big rain storm that has been forecasted for the last couple of days. If it happens it will a welcome relief from the drought. I will try to stay dry since I don’t have anything planned today.

    • katry Says:

      The title doesn’t have anything to do with silly. Playing isn’t silly. It is just having fun whether on the golf course or playing a game at the kitchen table. I don’t act silly when I play, can’t even remember the last time I was silly. The author just reminds us that playing keeps us young; it is the enjoymeny of the game..

      Cryptograms make me think at a different level than remembering names. I have to solve a puzzle, figuring out what the letters represent, and that’s why I like doing them. I also do the crossword puzzles every day but that’s more remembering than solving.

      The snow is pretty much gone now, and all I can hear are drips.

      • Bob Says:

        Sorry, I used the wrong word I really meant to say “child like or playful”.

  2. Mario Bergeron Says:

    Very nice. A game we don’t seen anymore in Quebec : Playin’ hockey in the streets in winter. When I was young, every street had kids playin’ hockey ! Sadly, we don’t see boys playin’ baseball in empty wacky fields. Two years ago, I saw two boys pitching a ball and I stop to look, ’cause it was like a mirage from the past.

    • katry Says:

      Thanks, Mario

      We had kids play stick ball in the street using half a rubber ball and a broomstick. We don’t see that either. We used to go to the park and play baseball. Now everything is organized for safety I expect. A mirage from the past is a great description.

  3. katry Says:

    I still think the author meant playing at anything. We play cards, we play board games like backgammon or cribbage. Playing doesn’t have to be child-like.

  4. Zoey & Me Says:

    Life has changed. It’s all controlled by fear now. Kids have to be on that invisible leash but they all have ipods or phones to stay in contact with the home base. My oldest grand child is reaching that age 13 where she doesn’t want her parents around anymore. I’m following this one closely as they are still concerned letting her roam the Mall with her friends. I’m just glad we grew up when we did.

    • katry Says:

      It’s true that fear now controls us which is why we now have helicopter parents whose kids are never out of their sight.

      I think if kids stay in groups they will be safer. That goes to the mall as well. No one travels alone should be the mantra.

      I too am glad we grew up when we did!

  5. olof1 Says:

    Is it St. Patrick’s day today? We don’t have it so I’m never sure when it is 🙂 But I wouldn’t have gone to any parade if snow fell, not even if it’s just a dusting 🙂 🙂

    We only have one child in the village now days and I rarely see him, but we were loads of kids when I grew up. Both boys and girls played together many times. Either we played our version on baseball called brännboll (that would be something like burn ball 🙂 ) or jumping rope.
    Now days kids stay indoors playing video games instead so we never see them 🙂 🙂

    To far to the cinema to see a matinée but I loved doing that when I lived in the city 🙂

    Have a great day!

    • katry Says:

      St. Patrick’s Day is the 17th, but they have the parade early here so they don’t have to compete to get the bands to march.

      Nope, I didn’t think a snowy parade was for me either.

      I can hear the kids playing in their yars during the summer months and sometimes they play out front when their dads are working on the yards. This street has more kids than it ever had.

      I still love the matinee but on weekdays rather than Saturday.

      Have a great night!

  6. Caryn Says:

    Hi Kat,
    Sometimes I think I live in the only neighborhood where kids still play in the street. One of my new neighbors made the comment that when she was checking out the neighborhood before she bought the house she noticed kids playing in the street and thought it was strange. They play street hockey, basketball, soccer, softball, weird games they make up. It’s normal to me. When I look around the town the new houses are all on very small lots, close together and there are no yards for kids to play in. We’ve turned all that over to organized children’s activities. They’re not given the chance to learn how to amuse themselves in constructive ways.

    BTW, there’s nothing wrong with being silly now and then. Very therapeutic. And there’s nothing wrong with being child-like sometimes, either.

    Morning snow squalls up here but I am outside the curve of that storm system so it didn’t amount to anything. The sun came out pretty early on but it never warmed up.

    Have a good day.

    • katry Says:

      Hi Caryn,
      Nope, they don’y play in the street here though it would be safe as it is a small street with few cars. Here we all have good size yards so the kids have pools and jungle gym type stuff to play in and with or maybe on.

      I just don’t have the occasion to be silly though we do have a good laugh now and then, mostly at each other!

      The sun came out and melted everything, but it got cold again, dowm to 33° now. It is supposed to be in the 50’s the next few days.

      It was a lazy day!

  7. Carl Says:

    Hi, Kat,

    Seems I’m playing catchup again. Must be a game. I don’t particularly enjoy it, but its what I got. I don’t know that I’m all that busy, must be an age thing. The boys dad has added a bit to his house and now has room for all of them there. And that good, its where they should be with one or the other of their parents. And I’m glad they are back with him.

    I was reading this and try to anticipate the songs that you would be putting up. Its another age related game that I play, usually not very successfully. I was surprised that you didn’t include “Name Game” and I wish I could remember who did it. Some late 50’s group or maybe early ’60s. And yet another age related game. LOL Seems to be lots of them.

    I’ve been hearing about your winter weather being particularly mild this year. I still don’t miss it. Here in paradise, there is talk of the weather changing, but to me its not that readily apparent. I do notice the warmth of the days and the length, too. Although a total of about 20 to 30 minutes in a half year is most likely not too noticeable to most.

    We are closing the house here around April 20th and I was thinking about heading home to MT or maybe someplace that had work for an old duffer. Like ferrying cars for rental companies, a bit of painting or maybe even restarting the handyman thing again. My partner has successfully alienated all my clients I had before. I did realize that he was not really a people person, sort of short fused. But I guess it was more than that.

    Anyhow my son has convinced me to join him and his wife in Kuwait. I told him if I could get a job there, I’d go, but that I am tired of doing nothing everyday. He’s coming March 23 as his wife’s eldest is graduating and he says he has good news. With Iran in the mix now, I’m really questioning the wisdom of going. He says we have over 50,000 troops and that it is safe there now but still.

    Sorry, I didn’t mean to make this so long, but I don’t get here often and enjoy the heck out of it when I do. Nice to be reminded of where I began life, or nearly where. Besides, I haven’t read in the papers where my waste of electrons is having much of an effect on the availability of electrons in the universe. By golly, I am coming to believe that the supply may be endless.

    Life is fun, take a chance and enjoy it.

    MT C

    • Kat Says:

      It’s funny but I never did think of The Name Game which Shirley Ellis sang. I would definitely have posted it had i remembered it. We used to think we were so funny by usng the name Chuck.

      I’m glad the boys are back home. I’m sure you were wonderful with them, but it is always best to be in the nest.

      This has been the warmest winter in my memory. We have had only about 7-8 inches of snow, and few really cold days. It is 41° right now which is quite warm for a morning in March. Boston has had only about 9-10 inches of snow all year.

      I’m not sure I could stand the heat every day in Kuwait. In Ghana, during the dry season, the heat melted candles which were never even lit. When I’d get up from a chair, my body image was etched on the chair cushion in sweat, not a pretty picture. I figure it is pretty safe but it is in the middle of everything, and I’m not sure I’d be all that comfortable.

      Never apologize for catching me up on the news. I drop by and visit every now and then to see what you’re up to but I love it when you drop by and let me know how you’re doing.

      I can’t imagine you wasting anything, especially electrons!

      I am a great believer in fun!


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