When was the last time you played hide-and-seek? I loved playing when I was a child and even as an adult with my children. We’d play the game outside with neighborhood children of all ages. And, often my siblings, friends, and my parents would play inside our home at night with the lights off, using flashlights. Thinking about this brings back fond memories of play and community.
In the game, there typically is one designated seeker and at least one individual who will hide. Also, a home base, such as a tree, is identified and used. This base allows players to come out at-will from hiding and have a neutral area to go without being found or captured. It is a safe place.
There may be one person who just doesn’t want to participate, who has interests and desires outside of this context of hide-and-seek. This person doesn’t care to hide, be found, or seek. He/she exhibits his/her choice not to play this particular game. For all we know, this person may be playing his/her own game of observation or, perhaps, he/she is experiencing just being. And, so it is.
To begin, the seeker closes his/her eyes and counts to a determined number while the others scamper and hide within a certain territory. When the seeker ends his/her counting, he/she may call out, “Ready or not, here I come!” This is the moment of great anticipation.
Each player adds a particular dynamic to the group by their level of desire to succeed and their creative and strategic skills. For the most part, all involved experience a sense of joy, some even stress and anxiety.
If we are hiding, we try to first quiet and still ourselves. As moments pass, we may sense and calculate our risk of exposure before making our move toward home base. Or we may impulsively and trustingly just go for it. If we are the seeker, we are searching, sensing, and analyzing where the opponents may be hiding. Both characters may choose to initially go to the known and familiar spaces.
In either role, our bodies may become more aware of time and space. We may become more conscious of our breath. When we quiet ourselves, thoughts may arise. We may feel our emotions and sense our way. We have an awareness, a deep knowing, that just says, “Seize the moment!”
In examining the game of hide-and-seek, I identified with these same roles in my spiritual, emotional, and cultural worlds. I’ve been a seeker, a hider, a home base or safe zone, and I’ve even been the player who chooses to opt out of the game. For the most part, I’ve enjoyed participating in these roles and making choices in them. And, I’m drawn to the moments in the game where we become conscious of our breath, quiet and still, expanding our awareness.
To some degree, aren’t many of us engaged in the paradigm of hide-and-seek? Isn’t this par for the course for the human condition? How do we bring our enthusiastic childhood spirit into play in our daily lives? And, what about at the end of the game, when the last one in hiding becomes the next seeker?
Ollie, Ollie, Oxen Free!