It begins with one, two, then three, then more. They gather to partake in the most joyous fun together. It was raining the other day and we were sitting on the veranda watching the day go by, when nature’s jesters turned up. The ubiquitous Pink & Grey Galah, found almost everywhere in Australia. They love to play, and they love to play in the rain (when it’s warm weather that is). This group started with one then there were more. I love it when they hang upside down to get the full feel of the rain and get a wash. You can hear from there calls that they are having a ball. It’s a little like watching young children have fun together.
The Pink and Grey Galah or Eolophus rosiecapillus (although science is also saying Cacatua rosiecapillus) a cockatoo, is common across Australia. Its common name is derived from its colour – pink with grey. Our English word Galah is taken from the Aboriginal language Yuwaalaraay and their word Gilaa. Galahs form strong bonds as couples who mate for life, and they are known to become depressed if their mate dies. There is an urban myth that if one of the couple dies, the other remains celibate, but it has been proven that they do indeed find another mate. They can live up to thirty years in the wild. They are highly inteligent, social, and adaptable.
In Australia the word Galah has also been used as a euphemism for someone who is a loud mouth. In teaching meditation, the term for a distracted and busy mind was always a monkey mind, but I use the word Galah mind, it makes more sense when you have no monkeys.
But their playfulness reminded me of how humans generally lose their sense of play, we become too serious and dismiss play as childish, silly, immature or a waste of time. We crush the inner child at every turn with our grown up ways. Dr. Stuart Brown gives us a great way to look at play as important to our health and development.
Like the Galahs, we too need to hang loose ocassionally, we need to play in the rain, we need to partake of fun. And like the Galahs who grieve their dead mate, we grieve so many things in our lives, and there is a place for counter-balance, not as distraction, but as intentional. Brown talks about how we need play to be whole and healthy, how doing the most, what appears to be silly things, enable us to see life differently. In other presentations, Brown provided research of prison inmates whose childhood had been deprived of play, there is a correlation between play deprivation and development issues. Some sobering thoughts, but ones that affirm the need to play.
Sometimes we need to be life’s jesters, and make like a Galah (the bird, not the loud mouth).