If You Play Dead, You’ll Be Dead

If You Play Dead, You’ll Be Dead

My son loves to “knock us out” when we are playing… be it with his dragon breath, a fake punch, or the occasionally well timed real fart.  My husband and I, happy to play along, will appear to be knocked out which usually requires our tongue to be hanging from one side or the other of our mouth.  As soon as we strike the appropriate pose, my son will leap on top of us, lift an eyelid and shout, “If you play dead, you’ll be dead!”  This little game usually ends with a huge tickle fest and lots of laughter.

The first couple of times my son did this, neither my husband nor I had any clue where he had picked up such a phrase.  It made perfect sense and like I said, the gusto with which he exclaimed it made us double over with uncontrollable laughter.  It wasn’t until the recent 1 millionth (give or take a few) viewing of “Ice Age: The Meltdown” did I find the source of my son’s favorite saying.  See, during the movie, Manny and his friends have met up with Ellie who is a woolly mammoth under the impression that she’s an opossum.  While they are fleeing what appears to be sudden doom (the melting of the ice caps), a large bird flies overhead and in typical opossum fashion, Ellie and her “brothers” instantly pretend to be dead.  Manny, not long on patience and already growing tired of Ellie’s delusion that she’s an opossum and knowing that the real threat they are facing is the impending flood, lifts her eyelid and utters the famous phrase, “If you play dead, you’ll be dead.”  The valley they were in was about to be flooded and they needed to reach the safety of the boat or higher ground – that was the real threat, not the bird flying overhead who was really too small to swoop down and carry Ellie off.

Sometimes, I have to admit, I am a bit like Ellie.  I will react to the perceived threat (the bird) without even realizing that there is a greater, more real threat looming out there… like when my husband and I will argue out of frustration over our finances (perceived threat) without realizing that we are using the stresses of adult life to disconnect from each other (greater threat).  It can be hard to focus on the greater threat when the immediate ones are so pesky and demand so much attention RIGHT NOW!  Thank goodness Ellie had Manny there to remind her that there were other things to be more concerned with at that moment… it’s not that the bird flying overhead wasn’t cause to exercise caution, but it wasn’t reason enough to lose all perspective.

Back to my adorable son who gets a huge kick out of lifting our eyelids and making his pronouncement… My husband wants to have this phrase put on his tombstone when his life here on Earth has ended.  We found ourselves discussing just how profound a statement it was:  If you play dead, you’ll be dead.  If you go through life acting as if it’s already over, it may as well be.  It’s a self fulfilling prophecy.

I know people who are right now just playing dead… they’ve given up, stopped caring, and just walk through life not really seeing or feeling anything at all.  I was that person for a while.  I could fake it, but if anyone worth their salt took a deeper look at me and how I lived compared to what I said, they’d see I was just saying and doing the things that were expected of me, but I wasn’t really living.  Living involves risk…living involves being intentional about choices…living involves active participation from both your heart and your mind.  I wasn’t living, trust me, but thank goodness someone was there to push me, nudge me, and basically let me know that if I continued to play dead, then I may as well be dead.

Are you playing dead?  Then let me be your “Manny” and lift your eyelid and remind you that if you play dead, you’ll be dead.  Do you know someone who is already playing dead?  Go be their Manny – they may not seem appreciative now but they will thank you for it later, I promise.


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