I don’t want to play that now
I’ve had occasion to watch a young relative, while visiting his mom and dad. We’d sit on a bench and watch him in the park; a very energetic little boy. Sometimes, another kid would come to play with him. Have you met children who look like toddlers but sometimes, speak like adults? Rory was like that. He was about 3 at the time.
A kid would come by, and say “Let’s kick a ball”, or Let’s run around the playground”, and Rory would cock his head, as if considering whether to build an empire, or go back to the sandbox, and give the child his answer.
At some point though, he would tire of the activity of his new friend. He had a phrase which he used on almost every occasion: “I don’t want to play that now.” That was it. He was done. The other kid could say things like “Aw, cummon, just one more ride on the swing”, or just throw me the ball once more!” Rory was impenetrable. He would walk away, on to other things.
Life throws us balls, and swings, and people. We can choose to play, or not. It’s just that many of us, and many of the people who play with us, don’t recognize our right to say “I don’t want to play that now.” It’s a good analogy in my view, because when I observe, I can look at life as a game. This is not a new idea: “All the world’s a stage, and all the men and women merely players” wrote Shakespeare. It is a point of view one can engage. Just step back, and see how the players play their roles. See how you do, too. Perhaps it’s time to go to the casting director and be assigned a new part. After all, we’re in this play for a long time. And just because life is a game, doesn’t mean it’s always fun.
I am comfortable telling someone that I don’t want to play that now, or the equivalent phrase for the occasion. This happens sometimes when friends have a cause or a charity they support. They often feel that since they support it, I ought to as well. If I don’t, the reaction might be that I am a schlump*, or that I’m judging my friend for their interest. Neither is the case. I just don’t want to play that now.
Family friend; local head of blood drive to me some years ago:
She: So, when are you going to donate blood?
Me: I wasn’t planning to anytime soon.
She: What type are you, anyway? We really need some B+.
Me: It doesn’t really matter; thanks for asking; as I’m not planning to donate at this time.
She: You young people are so selfish! Don’t you know there are people dying out there? Are you scared of a needle or something?
Me: I have my reasons; I do care about the need; please ask someone else now.
I heard a lecture last weekend. I hear a lot of lectures as I work for an organization that facilitates them. This speaker addressed the very issue we’re discussing here, and caused me to remember the incident just related. The blood drive person had called me “selfish”. Now, I was peeved at this at the time, because, in fact, she did not know my motivation for not wanting to donate, and darned if I was going to tell her at that moment! 😉 The weekend speaker asked “Have you noticed that when someone calls you selfish, it’s because you’re not doing what THEY want you to do? Isn’t that selfish on their part?” —Bingo!
The speaker went on to say: “It’s as if you are enjoying an ice cream cone. You lick it and enjoy it, and then your friend comes along. ‘This is such a good ice cream cone, you really must have some, too,’ you tell him. ‘But I don’t want any,’ your friend says. ‘Oh, but you must! It’s the best ice cream in the world! Here, have a lick!'”
Well, you get the drift. The ice cream can represent anything from a spiritual practice to the theory of evolution. It can encompass expected roles in society, and how to dress for dinner. It can even…gasp…speak to a person’s patriotism.
In the end, we have to let those eating their ice creams enjoy them. We can choose our own flavor without making theirs wrong. We can accept life as the strange and engaging thing it is. And if I don’t want to play that now; I will play it later, or find something even better to play. 😀