I have read articles recently on the value for adults of playing, as a child might, during the pandemic.
Studies show that playing aids physical and mental health.
When I discovered that a person at a Zoom meeting can change his shown name by clicking on participants, I started looking forward to the meetings.
At the next one, I changed my name to Jaunty John.
Next, I will call myself Jean Valjean, not because I feel hunted like the lead character in Les Mis, but because I like the sound of that name. Plus, he was a good guy in the story.
A few months ago during the wild early days of the pandemic, I set up Zoom meetings with students.
At each meeting, I wore a different hat.
You might think I wore teaching hats and scientist hats, but there are no such things.
So, I turned to my hat collection.
I started with a Soviet Army soldier hat.
Then I was the Cat in the Hat.
On a cold day, I wore the hat of a police officer in the oddly entertaining movie Fargo.
I had no plan to wear my Lone Ranger mask, but when a student asked to see it, I put it on with delight.
I also play in more adult ways.
For instance, I play tennis with a big group.
I went one day with orange markings on my face. I had used an orange stick sun blocker to put question marks on my face.
A woman player asked whether I had used a mirror. I had, and like a goose, I had turned the question marks the wrong way.
But enough about me. Let's talk about you for a minute.
I borrowed those two sentences from an Alanis Morrisette song.
I now seem stuck in Tomfoolery mode. At least I am entertaining myself - in the year of the plague.
When I mentioned the advantages of silliness to the members of my Facebook group, one member said she had just put googly eyes on her cat flap.
She said that she found the eyes funnier than the cat did.
Some adults find it difficult to play around, to be silly.
These folks are serious from toe to head.
Can you reach back to a time when it was easy for you to play?
Let that inner child out for a few minutes and see if you feel jauntier and healthier after.
John Malouff is an Associate Professor at the School of Psychology, University of New England.