What is the point of having a fit body if you don’t use it for play?
I don’t mean anything scandalous. Remember how you used to run around with your friends playing tag or riding bikes aimlessly, or how you loved to dig your hands deep into the sand, acting as a human shovel as you dug a moat for your castle at the beach? You didn’t consider those acts exercise. They were expressions of freedom and senseless fun, with the unspoken side effect that they caused you to pump a little more oxygen through your little body and eventually tuckered you out.
Why does play have to die with childhood? I think it shouldn’t. That’s why I made sure to squeeze a healthy dose of play into my weekend for days 19 and 20 of my 30-day fitness challenge.
Saturday morning, I went for a short run around the neighborhood, feeling good despite the now-typical summer heat. When afternoon rolled around, I took my newly purchased cheap-o boogie board to the beach at 6th Street and Ocean Drive for a little child’s play.
At first, my torso seemed to slide off the styrofoam surface of the board, and I found myself chasing it as it flew up out of the little waves in unforeseen directions.
Slowly, though, I found a bit more balance. I paddled way out toward the buoys that mark the swim area. No one else had ventured out so far. When I looked around, all I could see was water underneath a sky split down the middle between bright blue and deep gray. From the shore, I could hear bongo drums from some unseen band, and countless voices of all timbres and tones, shouting, laughing, murmurring. I heard motors from distant boats, and of course the sound of the little waves rolling in. I was both alone, and surrounded by life and all its little stories. I felt like a kid out on a make-believe boat, realizing for the first time a little snippet of autonomy. It was lusciously serene.
I loved this so much that I resolved to do it again on Sunday. Living on the beach means that this type of play is always accessible, and that’s why I love where I live. It’s easy to take for granted the privilege of visiting the ocean and soaking in the saltwater, but in all the years I’ve lived on Miami Beach, I don’t ever recall regretting time spent enjoying the beach.