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Saturday, January 20, 2018

The importance of play

A recent conversation has me thinking about play. I don't think I allow myself to play enough! So just for fun (!) I looked up some quotes about play.

If it's true that..."“Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold.” -Joseph Chilton Pearce ... then I'd better get playing!

But what is "play"? Of course it is different things for different people. I like the idea that: “Play keeps us vital and alive. It gives us an enthusiasm for life that is irreplaceable. Without it, life just doesn’t taste good” -Lucia Capocchione

Mark Twain suggests that: “Work consists of whatever a body is obliged to do. Play consists of whatever a body is not obliged to do.” I'm not sure I entirely agree with that. I can see his point but when my body is "not obliged to do" anything in particular it can sometimes slump into apathetic boredom. That doesn't seem like play somehow!

This photo seems to match the next quote:
“Play is the exultation of the possible.” -Martin Buber. I like that idea!
Kite surfing takes a lot of skill, hours of practice and presumably a lot of money for gear. Not possible (or even desirable) for many of us. Fun to watch though! Walking the beach and enjoying what I see is one of the ways I play. Taking photos and editing them later is play too. I can spend hours with photos - making books and calendars and just having fun.

As usual children have so much to teach us about play: A few plastic toys and time on the beach is all that's needed.
“Children need the freedom and time to play. Play is not a luxury. Play is a necessity.” -Kay Redfield Jamison

As I've thought about the ways I play I realise that apart from walking and going to Pilates most of my play is sedentary or passive. To relax I read (a lot!), enjoy knitting and doing jigsaws, spend time on photography and go to some movies. I do swim in the summer and I always love having a coffee with a friend - one friend at a time please - parties are definitely not play for me!

We recently had a friend staying with us. She is much more extrovertedly playful than me. I enjoyed her energy and one evening we spontaneously danced around to Bee Gees music! It was fun but not something I would do without some encouragement!

Of course it's just fine for each of us to play in our own way - as long as we don't forget to play at all. Two final thought provoking quotes underline that:
“The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression.” Brian Sutton-Smith

“Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.” -Stuart Brown, MD

This year I'd like to add some new ways to play - maybe more of the active kind - and definitely some that make me laugh!