The Art of Play | Jackson Free Press | Jackson, MS

The Art of Play

These days, even adults can enjoy child-like delights such as gourmet popsicles from places such as Deep South Pops. Photo courtesy Deep South Pops

These days, even adults can enjoy child-like delights such as gourmet popsicles from places such as Deep South Pops. Photo courtesy Deep South Pops

Coloring books are the new knitting. Have you heard? This is a thing now. For grown-ups. This is just the latest in a number of things that have me thinking about just what's going on with us supposed adults.

In addition to the coloring books, you can find things like gourmet popsicles, bars (including Fondren's CAET Wine Bar) that offer alcohol-laced "slushies" and adults kickball leagues. It all makes me think about what Meredith Grey said on "Grey's Anatomy": "We're adults. When did that happen, and how do we make it stop?"

It's not just our leisure activities, either; as an avid consumer of pop, fashion, and celebrity culture, I know full well about the cult of youth and the pursuit of it. Celebrities who look the same as or even better than they did 20 and 30 years ago stare at us from the pages of magazines. (Anyone else still in awe of Sharon Stone's nude shoot in a recent Harper's Bazaar?) The latest and greatest medical and spa treatments and elixirs promise to render us ageless.

Heck, I even have a lot of friends who, in their adult years, are still trying to figure out the question that we were first asked in elementary school: "What do you want to be when you grow up?" I had my own career crises a few years ago—I called them career crisis '08 and job-a-palooza 2010, respectively, and made party cups to make them more festive.

Which is to say, I am by no means immune to this. I am all about a popsicle. I am a big fan of Dr. Dotie Jackson at Sanctuary Body Spa of St. Dominic's and will continue my plan of maintenance and prevention that will keep my face and skin looking ... well, hopefully the same age as when I started seeing him. And lately, I have on occasion felt that childlike urge to just run away and hide from things.

When did we grow up?

It's easy to mock or make fun of the attempt to cling to one's youth, and I admit that people can take it too far; however, there's something to retaining the joy of childhood and recognizing the importance of play. We have enough seriousness.

A friend of mine who plays kickball and enjoys "Harry Potter" can also participate in serious political policy debates and assumes very adult responsibilities in dealing with the care of aging family members. Another friend enjoys playing video games but is also in the midst of starting and growing a small business and a family. A friend who is still trying to figure out what she wants to be when she grows up took on the role of caretaker for a parent much earlier in life than I'm sure she ever imagined, and she did so with such love and beauty and selflessness.

So yes, we are adults. I'm not sure when it happened, and every time I'm asked my age lately, I balk a little bit when I answer. (Denial is my friend.) But being an adult doesn't mean we have to lose the good parts of our youth. Pablo Picasso once said: "Every child is an artist. The problem is how to remain an artist once we grow up."

Maybe that idea should extend from visual art to the art of living. Maybe we should all remember and practice the art of play. So ... maybe I'll go pick up a coloring book myself.

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