The Exuberant Animal by Frank Forencich

The "Exuberant Animal" is you! This book basically says that you need to behave like an animal, because you are one. Also, you should play. Also, the normal types of "gyms" basically suck. Also, before leading a sedentary lifestyle, you should consult your doctor, because it's killing you!

I haven't actually read the entire book, but I've read all around it and I get the picture. We need to live in our bodies and enjoy being in our bodies. Be present in our lives. And socialize! And play!

The wisest person you know is your dog. (I don't have a dog and I don't like them at the moment because we had one just kill a chicken, but I'm willing to play along.) Your dog lays around and plays, mostly. If someone comes to the door, he goes into freakout mode and barks and yaps, but then if he knows the person, he immediately calms down and licks them or whatever. He doesn't obsess like, "Oh no! That was my best friend Carol! How could I yap at her? God, I'm such an idiot. She hates me now." No, no. He just stops yapping and gets his favorite toy for her to throw. Because, not only does he not obsess over things, your dog never stops playing. Playing is not just for puppies. Playing is for everyone! Why does the dog play? Who cares? It's just what dogs do! They play!

And humans are actually the same way, or should be. We should do movements that we enjoy. Also, we should play with other people.

Forencich is really against those gym machines, like the treadmills and the stationery bikes, where you just do the same motion over and over like to be done with it! Not to be conscious of your body or enjoy nature or perform any real work, but just to be done with it. This is the worst sort of exercise. Exercise should be challenging and fun and social.

Some parts of this book I really loved, because they affirmed my parenting style, which is like this,

"Go out and play!"

I think most people my age or older had parents who said that a lot. It seems like it isn't so common anymore. I think the world has become afraid. Well, not the world- the U.S.

Apparently, when you go outside and play, and you're bored or whatever, and then you get interested in something, and then you do something, that's when your brain is growing and your body is learning as well. The best kind of play for children, according to Forencich, is unsupervised playing outdoors.

This part reminded me suddenly of a documentary, "Children of the Holocaust," where the one child (who was interviewed later as an adult) had been placed in a concentration camp. He said that he and the other children there fantasized about two things: to eat a lot, and to play unsupervised. That was all.

This book covers so much that I won't go into it all. I haven't even finished it yet, and I already have so much to think about. It spawned a discussion about how we used to play as children, which was really fun and interesting. We did gripe a lot about the kids we get in class who don't seem to know what to do with free time, because their lives have become so structured. Then we all went to lunch and came back, and before the teacher began again, a woman said,

"I just have to say something." (Oh, no, I thought. Here it comes. More about how kids don't play like they used to.) "I was driving back from lunch," she said, "and it was raining as you know. I saw two little girls, barefoot, no adults around, playing in the puddles. Just playing."

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