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One of the magical benefits of play and playfulness is that real, valuable life lessons can be learned — even when you’re least expecting it. To show you what we mean, we will periodically share with you our own experiences and what we took away from them. So, without further ado… Hi! I’m Tom, and these are my stories:

I remember it like it was yesterday. A cool, late afternoon in autumn. The smell of freshly mowed grass and the trees turning from yellow to orange, orange to red like flames. The sun was low in the sky, though it wasn’t even dinner time. I remember the texture of the worn rubber grip on my green and black, graphite Easton bat as I let it swing back and forth menacingly over my shoulder. The count was full and the bases were loaded with “ghost runners”. This was my time to shine. All I was thinking was, “please don’t throw the curve… anything but the curve.” What can I say? It just wasn’t my pitch. After pausing for dramatic effect, my big brother went through his signature slow motion wind-up and tossed it. It was the curve, and it was coming in hot. I cocked back. I swung. CRACK! I knocked it clear out of the yard.
Life Lesson #135: When life throws a curve ball, grip it and rip it.

When I was little, I was fortunate enough to have these killer bike trails near my house. The dirt and gravel trails wound through the woods, opened into clearings, and were interrupted by the occasional wooden bridge over pieces of Minnehaha Creek. What I remember most are the smells. The dank and swampy aroma of the woods. The dry, dusty scent of the trail. The smell of wood and mud under the bridge where we tossed stones into the creek. All of these smells bring me right back to the day I went too far down the trail. Way too far. Like… totally wasn’t-back-in-time-for-dinner far. Sometimes when you grip that ten speed and the breeze starts working its way through your hair, you just want to hold on.
Life Lesson #63: Always remember it’s the same distance back.

It was the perfect summer day. The sun was high in the sky and it was crazy hot out. The good kind of hot. The kind of hot that makes you want to drink from the hose and run through the sprinkler. Lucky for my five year old self, I had this totally rad sprinkler attachment that sprayed water all over the place. Holler! That day I must have splashed around under that bad boy for a solid 3-4 hours. Then, all of a sudden and out of nowhere, the clouds started rolling in. Not cool. I sprinted across the yard and turned off the hose. Next, I had to go inside and fess up. I remember being terribly distraught when I apologized to my mom “for letting too much water into the world and causing it to rain.”
Life Lesson #47: It wasn’t you. Rain just happens.

You don’t have to trudge through all the research-y, science-y stuff you see scattered all over the news and internet regarding the importance of play to see it. Look no further than your favorite childhood memories. Tell a story about play to your kids or a friend. Reflect on why it stands out in your mind amongst all the other memories and you will begin to see how the experience may have shaped you. Want to tell us your story? Shoot us an email at [email protected]. We may just feature you here!