Play hard, sleep hard – Max’s life in a nutshell. Though eating hard goes somewhere in the infinite loop of the other two.
We go on fun walks and play as much as we can in my small apartment. Despite the limitations, Max finds endless joy in even the simplest games of tug and wrasslin.
Then he crashes. He sleeps like I can only dream about sleeping.
Of course, those are the good days for him. Sometimes I’m just too busy to play with him enough and when he doesn’t play enough he doesn’t sleep so well.
And that’s a real problem – sometimes I’m just too busy. Not only too busy to play with Max, but to play myself. Too busy to sleep.
Granted, I have an awesome job working with teenagers and having a lot of fun, but Max has taught me that fullness of life is rooted in the crucial activities of playing and resting.
I leave out work on purpose. First, Max doesn’t work. I tell him he’s a freeloader and that he needs to start carrying his weight around here, but he doesn’t seem to care.
But more to the point, Max has taught me that work and play should not be mutually exclusive. I recognize that there are many people who will never find joy in jobs that they have to do just to get by, and that we can even do meaningful work and not derive continual joy from it. Yet, Max has taught me that play is too important, even if it occurs in breaks from our jobs. If we are just working hard and not playing hard (or sleeping hard), then we are missing that fullness that even dogs seem to grasp.
There’s a natural rhythm of play and rest that Max enjoys and that I must learn. Yes there is work to do, but it really doesn’t seem to be worth it if it does not begin to mesh with play.
And Max has taught me that life is simply unsustainable if we leave rest out of the mix. While rest definitely includes sleep, it also includes whatever refreshes the soul. For Max, this also includes getting a good head or belly rub.
In fact, I think the whole point of the rhythm of play and rest is that it all nourishes and refreshes the soul. Why not be doing that all the time? And if it’s not possible to play and rest all the time, I think it is at least important to incorporate it into daily life in some consistent way.
So thank you Max, for teaching me to reorient my life around a rhythm of playing hard and sleeping hard. And I mean hard – that kind of play that leaves us good tired. Where every muscle in our bodies knows that we had a good time. And sleeping hard – where we are not multi-tasking but rather are really immersed in soul refreshing rest.