October 14, 2022 | CULTURE | By Mariel Zech | Illustration by Elizabeth White

Some of my fondest memories from my Shakespeare in London block abroad this past summer involve leaping through the air. With class friends by my side, I frolicked in the garden by Shakespeare’s birthplace, at Hyde Park, and through mews and cobblestone streets.

Frolicking is defined by Merriam-Webster as “to play and run about happily.”

I would elaborate on that definition to posit that frolicking is the art of surrendering to our desire to have fun through movement, and to express our appreciation for the experience we’re having through those movements. Frolicking can consist of skipping, running, twisting, rolling, dancing, cartwheeling, flipping, jumping, leaping, wiggling, hopping, crawling, and more. A classic elementary school trick — to grab hands with someone and then spin in a circle as fast as you can — remains a spectacular method of frolicking.

In her Ted Talk, “Why Having Fun is the Secret to a Healthier Life”, Catherine Price argues that we have fun when playfulness, connection, and flow converge. More specifically, we are the most likely to have fun when we let our guard down, when we are enjoying a shared experience with someone else, and when we enter a flow state in which we are fully focused on what we’re doing in the present moment.

Frolicking successfully checks all these boxes. First, playfulness is literally in its definition. Second, frolicking is also the most enjoyable, I think, when you’re doing it with someone else. Third, I’ve found that frolicking does activate a flow-like state for me, in which it’s easy to lose track of time and simply relish the activity at hand.

“Frolicking became the way in which I felt the most present,” shared fellow Shakespearean Kira Smith ‘25. “Frolicking brought me so much joy that it felt like the most authentic way to express how happy I was to be in any given place.”

My dad used to call me “Skipper” as a kid because I loved to skip. I have become less and less deserving of such an honorable nickname, as I have grown up and have shed this wonderful habit overtime in favor of walking. There are certain childhood pastimes that are no longer entertaining as adults; I assure you, however, that skipping and spinning your way through a meadow remains a fantastic way to spend your time. It’s also a solid method of transportation.

In the words of another classmate and fellow frolicker Carlee Castillo ’23, “frolicking in London made me feel whimsical and very free.”

I think that feeling free while frolicking — a sensation that I experienced as well — results from embracing an activity that we don’t typically associate with adulthood. It is for this reason that frolicking in public is even more invigorating.

People don’t necessarily expect an adult to leap like a ballerina at a public park. But why should only the kids and the dogs have all the fun at parks?

After long days of sitting at a desk or tapping at your keyboard, it is delightful to defy the expectations of normal and jump for the stars and roll in the grass. Another freeing element of frolicking is that you move your body in whatever way you want to in that moment. Relieve yourself of any form of structure or planning as you embark on a magical frolic!

I will end with the wise words of another classmate Sam Davis ’23. I am forever indebted to Davis, whom I would call the King of Frolicking in the 2022 Shakespeare in London class. If I had not witnessed Davis gracefully soaring and twisting and spinning through the London air, then I would not have frolicked this past summer myself.

“Frolicking is a way to break free from the chains of societies perception of us and momentarily move our bodies in a cathartic rhythm that shakes our bones and lifts us physically and metaphorically up towards the clouds. It’s Jesus Christ in motion. It loosens the screws that keep us in routine. It frees us and lifts us up and says to the world: ‘I’m gonna move and groove and skip and rift and you can’t do anything about it.’ Take that world, but also, you’re beautiful and I love you.”

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