Playing in the Mud to Regain Your Youth


The Making of Mudballs

Your parole gone, the warden sets you free
price now paid, pick up your debris
no life lies straight, filled with curves
many obstacles to weave around and swerve

Realize with no dust upon your tongue
you could sing no textured songs
in purity's light, your shadow darkens bright
possessive of all that impresses in the night

The Earth wants no unsullied feet to dance
she wants her children to laugh with every chance
so take that blood-mixed mud between your toes
to sculpt your mudball that expands as you go

— Janaka Stagnaro


Thank you for reading. One of the life lessons I have learned in six decades of life this time around is that it is very hard to not get muddied moving through life. In fact, it is not desirable. It is the same thing as trying to live a mistake-free existence. To be clean, is to say to the world, "I want nothing of you out there. I will just be content staying in my room of unspent desires." But such a declaration will squeeze your heart with only contractions until it implodes into the emptiness of non-accomplishment and fearful denial.

The above photo is of my son playing in a lovely clay deposit we discovered at a beach in Oregon many years ago. Of course, I could have gone into the parental mindset that tends to keep life safe, tidy, and clean; however, that would have denied us hours of exploring this bounty of clay, and no mudballs would we have made that day.

As a parent and as an educator I have stressed to those under my charge that it is okay to fall down in the making of mistakes. I cheer whenever a student shamefully says, "I made a mistake." "Excellent!" I will reply. "Now, I know you are learning." No inventor, no creative person goes about their work with the fear of doing wrong, of not being perfect. It is one thing to tell our children that it is okay to make mistakes, but it is another matter to live a life as an example. If children do not see it in the adults around them, most likely they will go through their days bereft of adventure, safe in front of their screens watching fictional characters doing feats of daring-do, sighing as they much on their popcorn.

May your days be filled with mud and the blood of leaving security behind.

(published by Age of Awareness on

The Importance of Play

I have been blessed in having the company of small children, both through my Waldorf teaching and having three children spread out over the years. While I am in the lower 60s of this life, I feel younger as the days keep ticked off. A lot of that I attribute to playing. I love to play: whether it is actual board games, playing movement games with children, playing with words and adding humor where I can, playing my guitar or harmonium, doing creative work, being with animals, or just walking in nature and communing with the play of light or winds or watching clouds take shape.

The adult world tends to be very serious, and unfortunately, most educational systems kick our children down the assembly line to get them to grow up as fast as possible. Play is not considered as important as getting ready for those tests. All it does is create a society of stilted citizens, living unhappy lives, and being rather testy.

I am not talking about being Peter Pan, although Peter Pan has his place. In the Tarot, the Fool moves through the world unencumbered and concerned only with the moment. In the positive aspect of The Fool, he is child-like and enlightened. Negatively, he is childish, naïve, and irresponsible.


The Sun is another card that denotes the child's energy, smiling, riding the white pony of innocence. Each day the sun shines anew, bringing life to everything. Children's laughter (unless you are trying to have them work quietly for a while) enlivens our inner child, reminding us that our youth is still within.

The 10 of Rods is an excellent image for what most of us adults feel. Here we see an older adult bent over with all these burdens. Rods represent growth, among other meanings, so this card depicts a lot of growth, handling many responsibilities. However, if this card is not balanced by The Sun, those rods will turn to crosses and resentment.

So get out there and play. Hang out with young ones. Be creative for creativity's sake. Go out in nature. An author/photographer friend of mine, Robin Easton, finds her playful spirit by walking barefoot in the wilderness. It is such a great way of getting out of the modern adult world that we live in. I liken walking barefoot to being a child gleefully walking on our Mother's back, giving a nice massage.