Never. Stop. Playing. (Caine’s Arcade)

So… my birthday is imminent, and I’m about to celebrate a 20-something for the last time ever. I’m really kind of excited about this.  The latter part of my 20’s, despite a LOT of challenges and sadness, has been full of so. much. playing!

Kate Carraway challenged me to demand from myself ‘amusement and excitement on an epic scale‘ in May of 2009, and I truly and wholeheartedly have stood up to the parameters of that challenge. Dragonboating, longboarding, trips to cities all over the continent, creative writing, crafting, art-obsessions, cycling, laughing, loving, living.

I was 26 when I accepted that challenge, and a few days before my next birthday, I was sitting in the kitchen and my aunt asked me how old I was turning as she was doing dishes. I said ’27.’ And then I was silent. After 10 or so seconds (a record for me if I’m in good company), she turned around and saw that I had tears STREAMING down my face. Something about that number suddenly did it for me, and I was pretty upset. This was an extreme version for me, but it wasn’t uncommon. I’ve always been a huge birthday brat, and plan out elaborate gatherings long in advance of the day, but EVERY year, about a day or two before it arrives, I work myself up into an anxious, weepy mess. I worry about whether the people I invited will come, whether they’ll have fun, whether I’ll have fun, whether I’ve left people out, whether I’ve made the right decision about what to do, and so on and so forth.

This year I’ve decided to have a simple daytime playtime in the park with a potluck bonfire and some reading from our childhood writings and singing and live music and dancing later. Simple right? Nothing could go wrong, and I won’t end up in accidental tears, right? Right?

The point isn’t whether I can avoid inevitable eye-leaking on my birthday, the point is that on my last birthday before I turn 30, I want to PLAY, and I want my friends and family to do so with me, because it’s become such an integral part of the philosophy of my life. I want to be joyful, and giggly, and not take myself or others too seriously.

What inspired this post (which wasn’t supposed to be about birthdays, but there you go) was a film that was just recommended to me about an incredibly creative and intelligent little boy named Caine who used the tools and materials around him to create a cardboard arcade, complete with Fun Passes and point tickets and prizes (the first ones were hot wheels cars he used to play with himself! This kid’s even doing play-cycling!!!) Even when he had only one customer, he still kept working on it, trying to make it more and more fun. Once people found out about it, they (a LOT of they’s, actually) wanted to be there to try it out.

It’s trending like crazy on twitter and the video’s gone viral, and donations are being collected to support a scholarship for Caine’s education. Why? Because we all want to play! And we all want to support the kind of minds that make it possible for us to do that kind of play.

I’m so impressed with his dedication and of, course, being only 5 days until my birthday, it brought some tears down my face. HAPPY TEARS guys. Watch it:

Turns out I’m not the only one that got a little moist in the eye holes:

Dudecraft: Tears of DIY joy

Best Week Ever: Crying silently at all the heartbreaking sweetness in the world

Jennifer Chaney Photographer: tears of sheer delight. And Hope.

Biscotti Brain: no tears, but really good lessons learned from Caine, his Dad, and Nirvan

Geek Mom: tears of joyous inspiration

Booooooom: at least 5 tears for appreciation of pure truth and fearless creation

Jezebel: Madeline deemed it ‘your evening cry’

1 comment
  1. Lori Bigwood said:

    How old are you Lee-Anne??? You’re a BEAUTIFUL, WONDERFUL, HAPPY, GIGGLY 29 years old! I hope I didn’t make you cry again!

    The Caine video was great – yes, I cried tears of happiness for that little boy. He has so much dedication to what makes him happy. He’s truly an inspiration. I bet you even thought about driving to LA so you could PLAY in his arcade!!!

    Your daytime playtime was wonderful. You have such amazing friends and it’s obvious that they adore you, just like we do. We were so happy to be a part of it. We’re grateful that you include us in all that makes you happy. You are one extraordinary woman, and I’m so proud to be your Aunt….yes, the Aunt that made you cry! ;(

    Happy Birthday, Birthday Brat!

    I Love You!

    Aunt Lori

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