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As a child, my brother and I often played on the playground at Cove Lake State Park in Caryville, Tennessee while our dad practiced his golf swing in a nearby field. Monkey bars, a seesaw, a merry go round, the ever present swings and a slide provided welcome entertainment for the two of us.

It was scary going up the rungs of the ladder to the top of the big slide. It was such a long way to the bottom. But carefully pulling my legs forward and sitting at the top of the warm metal on a summer day, I’d eventually get up the courage to let go of the protective rails. In that moment of swooshing down to the bottom, especially if I raised my arms, I experienced exhilaration, joy, pleasure.

This past Tuesday, during my online writers’ group meeting, I got to thinking about how much that hour felt like play to me. The facilitator was asking each of us what we wanted to get out of our time together when the realization came to me that I wanted to experience the same sense of delight I enjoyed 50 years ago on that Tennessee playground.

I’ve been fortunate to have been part of a few teams over the years where I’ve had that experience. Twenty years ago I was part of a drama team in Georgia. We performed occasionally, but more importantly we met every week for a few hours to improve our craft. It was often the highlight of my week. Doing improv and exercises that got us into character was playtime for me.

I also experienced that when I was on a writing team. As a group, we met to flesh out characters and plot, and then went our own way to work on our assigned scenes which we’d bring back to the group the following week. I think it was the collaborative time that brought me such joy. Writing can be a solitary experience, but being on a team gave me much needed interaction with other creatives.

Even with all of the enjoyment I get from my work, it wasn’t until Tuesday’s meeting that I realized I hadn’t “played” in a while. That’s not a slam on my family or our farm or the work and relationships I cherish. Being a part of this group gives me that same sense of lightness that I experienced going down the big kid’s slide - a little bit of fear, a little bit of butterflies in the stomach region, but in the end exhilarating.

Where do you play? What gets your heart racing? I’m not talking about when you’re either working or working out. Just because we’re now taller and weigh a bit more doesn’t mean we no longer need to play. In fact, I’ve come to the conclusion it’s more important now than ever.

Sherry Asbury Clark is Co-Founder of Purdon Groves and a freelance writer. Her column, Finding Myself in a Small Town, appears each week in the Corsicana Daily Sun. You may reach her at sherry@purdongroves.com. For more information on Purdon Groves, a farm, table, venue and retreat property, check out purdongroves.com or visit their Instagram or Facebook pages.

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