On Monday, August 8, I had what I’m calling My Best Staples Experience Ever. It began innocently enough. I had a bag of papers to shred. I went in and waited at the Copy & Print desk to weigh my tote bag that was filled to overflowing. Total weight? Eight pounds. I spent the next few minutes stuffing the papers into the secure shredding bin. Finally, I headed over to the cashier to have him ring up this transaction as well as to drop off some printer cartridges for recycling.
I walk over to the cashier area, and encounter the associate as he’s putting some shopping baskets back near the front entrance. I let him know I’ve just put paper in to be shredded. He asks me how many pounds. “Eight”, I say. “Is that all?”, he jokes. Catching his humorous mood, I smile and promise to do better next time. As we get to the cash register and he begins to ring up the transaction, he adopts a British accent. Without missing a beat, I reply in the same clipped tones. Happily surprised, he laughs, “I didn’t expected that. Most people think it’s childish.” “No, no!”, I replied, assuring him that I did not share such strange opinions. We continued to banter—the word “Indubitably!” came up at one point—with the stiffest upper lips we could manage while chortling in our joy for the whole transaction. At the end, we both had huge smiles.This got my day and week off to an excellent start.
“Our lives are in serious condition because of our conditioning to be serious.”
I firmly believe that playfulness needs to be part of our daily lives—at home, with friends, with strangers and, most especially, at work. As Swami Beyondananda says, “Our lives are in serious condition because of our conditioning to be serious.” But playfulness is natural to us, just look at children. Laughter and smiles come as standard equipment, and although we think that once we grow into adult bodies we have to somehow become completely different people, in reality we’re all just children in adult bodies. Our educational and other systems teach us to suppress our natural joy, our Positivi-Tea, but in order to be free, healthy and happy human beings, we need to do the opposite: we need to foster and express it.
So here’s a PLAY Practice for you: Get together with a friend, and each of you think of a country that’s not your own. Don’t tell each other which country you’ve chosen, just start speak to each other as a native of whichever country you’ve chosen. If you feel that’s too much of a stretch, you could also each choose a movie character and relate to the other as your chosen character. Try it over lunch or over tea. Drop me an email at firstname.lastname@example.org, and let me know how it goes.
Meanwhile, I’m gathering more papers for shredding and I will be certain to time my next Staples trip for a Monday morning around 11.