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updated: 2/3/2012 2:52 PM

Allow time for spontaneous fun

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Wild laughter, squeals of delight and shouts of mock terror emanated from the resort's pool.

A family -- mom, dad and their four children -- played a variation of the game Marco Polo, which is as old, probably older, than most of us.

It was late in the evening, and I'm sure their day had been filled with sightseeing, shopping, recreation, dining and all those experiences we try to pack in to our vacations.

But here they were, probably having the most fun of the entire day in an unplanned, unscheduled children's game. Their joy was infectious. And as I smiled, I found myself wondering just how often the rest of us let ourselves experience such spontaneous relaxation. Not often enough. Or, at least, that would have to be my own answer to such a question.

If I am honest, even when I "relax," my relaxation is more often planned, scheduled and complicated. I want to know ahead of time what I'm going to do, when I'm going to do it, and the details of how it is going to be done. Relaxing becomes yet another task or project to fill my already overly filled day.

Social scientists tell us that we are spending more and more time working, running errands, carting kids, going to school, fixing up our homes and so on; all of this activity planned, scheduled and complicated.

Spontaneous anything, let alone relaxation, seems a precious and rare commodity. I realize that much of what we do does have to be planned, scheduled and complicated, but maybe not everything.

Maybe we ought to allow ourselves some time to have no plans, no schedule and no details to attend to.

Maybe we ought to allow our families to have such time, too. I've actually tried this in the past few weeks, and I confess to feeling a bit at loose ends without plans to make, schedules to keep or details to attend to. After awhile, though, I have also found myself feeling surprisingly relaxed. It may not exactly be the height of spontaneity, but it sure feels good.

Oh, back to my time at the pool. Somewhat to my surprise, I pulled myself away from the professional journal I was trying to get through and jumped in to the water to play with my granddaughter. She still talks about the time "grandpa got silly." Obviously, grandpa needs to "get silly" more often.

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