how are play and shrooms related?

Last month, I decided all of a sudden that I wanted to take on a new hobby. Mushroom foraging.

Yes, foraging. For mushrooms.

I was marginally obsessed playing with Smurfs in my NJ basement in the 80s, but I don’t think that’s where it began.

It all started in a snowy village in southern France, one of my favorite places on the planet.

I was there to write my book proposal (it’s finished!) and after writing each day, I would find myself on a hike or long run in the nearby forests.

Moving is part of my balance. And to be surrounded by nature? It’s like medicine for me.

I couldn’t help but notice the mushrooms that popped up everywhere, from deep under the surface of the earth. Knowing not to pick any lest they be poisonous, I began to explore the colors and sizes and shapes, and then soon I was looking for all of the random facts I could find about mushrooms. And I wasn’t even focused on the psychedelic kind!

The following week I found myself at a dinner in a castle (only in France would that sentence sound normal) and the couple who had hosted said, casually, “Tomorrow, we are going mushroom foraging!”

I feel like a former version of myself would have chuckled or maybe let those words fly past me. But this new me? I couldn’t get the idea out of my head and vowed to plan an expedition on my return.

So then I started to wonder why.

I think because it’s a lot like bird watching.

  1. You get to walk and move and spend time in nature.

  2. The only real goal is to stay present.

  3. You get to NOTICE things and when you look for something specific, you find so much else.

  4. As your body moves in nature, you also stimulate your brain in healthy ways, honing your senses and learning to observe the littlest details.

As the neurons fire away in those brains of ours, it can’t hurt to ask them to slow down, notice more and tune in.

Of course mushroom foraging is the real deal. It might not be as extensive as a study in wine (at least in France) but like apples and other goodness from the earth, the varieties are many and the learning is intense.

So I’ll table this newly discovered passion for now, mostly because I live in NYC and because every day I play Tetris with my over-scheduled calendar, raising kids, managing my business, writing this book…

But one day I’ll channel this hobby.

Is that play?

Play is when you lose track of time, get present, and find joy in the doing.

So yes, even mushroom foraging can be play.

With fierce love,
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