Play as an Immigrant

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A strange correlation happened with my father as he grew older.

As he retired and grew older, the more playful he became.

He picked up fishing in his 60’s. He would bounce out of bed before the sun was up and be gone the whole day just to catch a couple fish.

There was the time he decided to go on a two week trip to Taiwan by himself a few years ago, bouncing around to hostels for his accommodations.

Every chance he gets now he swings on monkey bars at any playground he walks by.

This puzzled me at first because my dad was not the playful type when I was growing up.

He was too busy working whatever job he despised to support the family. And as a refugee and immigrant he was never working the job of his dreams.

It recently clicked that my dad is more playful now because he doesn’t have that stress anymore.

He can focus on what brings him joy now and he’s going to soak up every moment he gets.

You are only as playful as you are safe and secure. Read that again.

This week’s episode of The Recess Life is really special to me because my guest created a work of art that mirrors my dad’s story.

My guest is Oscar nominated director (yes, you are reading that correctly), Laura Nix. Laura’s film Walk Run Cha Cha was nominated for best documentary short this past year at the Oscars and it is breakthtaking.

If you haven’t watched it yet DO ITIt will be the best 20 minutes of your week.

Walk Run Cha Cha follows Paul and Millie Cao, a middle-aged couple who fled Vietnam as refugees for Los Angeles 40 years ago.

After they’ve worked so hard to build their American dream they are focusing on what brings them joy now: ballroom dance.

I had to pinch myself for getting the chance to talk to Laura. She shared a story of joy that not many of us get to hear about the immigration experience.

If you are lucky enough to have some security in your life I hope this episode inspires you to take advantage of your capacity to play and do the things that bring you joy.

Don’t delay joy if you don’t have to. Pssst, you never have to.

Check out the episode here or on any of the podcast platforms.

Happy listening and please let me know if any of this resonates with you. I love hearing from you!

PS. If you are on Instagram follow The Recess Life at @therecesslife. I promise insightful content about play…and sometimes the occasional post of me doing something embarrassing.

PPS. If you think a friend would enjoy these ramblings about play, joy and creativity feel free to share this newsletter with them or have them sign up to be added to the email list.

PPS. I love this New York Times article about how these Bhutanese immigrants relax by coming together to play archery after they’ve worked long shifts as Uber drivers: These Uber drivers are stressed. Archery soothes them.

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