“A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who doesn’t play has lost forever the child who lived in him and who he will miss terribly.”

Pablo Neruda

Growing up isn’t about trading hopscotch for office politics, or fairy tales for fiscal reports. Rather, it’s that quiet rebellion against the notion that with age comes the abandonment of wonder, the mellowing of mischief, and the absolute retirement of play.

Imagine, for a moment, the collective hours we adults have spent organizing our junk drawers. We’ve become masters of hiding our desire to doodle on official documents or the urge to skip instead of walk. Why? Because skipping is for kids, right?

Now, imagine if, just for a day, the world decided to redefine maturity. The very essence of ‘adulthood’ now means swinging a little higher, laughing a bit louder, and occasionally—just occasionally—blowing bubbles in your drink, just because you can.

Growing up has this sneaky way of convincing us that to adult effectively, we must shed the cloak of our whimsy. But what if, like a tried-and-true garment, our youthful spirit is not meant to be shed, but instead, periodically tailored to fit the ever-changing contours of our lives?

We’ve all had moments where life feels a bit too serious. The weight of responsibilities, expectations, and those pesky bills have a way of anchoring us firmly to the ground. But what if, instead of heavy chains, these were merely elastic bands? With just the right amount of joyful rebellion, you can stretch them, even if momentarily, to reach for the clouds.

The beauty of embracing this perspective is that it’s universally adaptable. No need for grand gestures or over-the-top antics. Whether you’ve ever laughed at a joke no one else got or simply cherished the magic of a starry night, the essence is the same: there’s a child in each of us, waiting to be remembered, waiting to play.

Now, to the adults reading this, a challenge: Tomorrow, do one utterly childish thing. Splash water. Sing a silly tune. Chuckle at the word “pickle.” Because the man or woman who refuses to play isn’t protecting their grown-up stature. Instead, they risk exiling the most vibrant, imaginative, and delightful part of themselves.

Adulthood, for all its merits, can be a well-orchestrated trap of seriousness. But who says we can’t occasionally wriggle out of it and taste the joyous freedom that only a child truly understands?

Stephen Boudreau serves as VP of Brand and Community at Virtuous Software. For over two decades, he has helped nonprofits leverage the digital space to grow their impact. To that end, Stephen co-founded RaiseDonors, a platform that provides nonprofits with technology and experiences that remove barriers to successful online fundraising. He is an avid (but aging) soccer player, audiobook enthusiast, and the heavily-disputed UNO champion of his household.

Copyright ©2023 Stephen Boudreau.