The birds were singing their songs. The air was crisp. The freshness of Spring could be smelt. Sprite, a seven-month-old Whippet-Bedlington cross was tugging his guardian’s trousers, stopping occasionally staring at his rope toy and looking up at him, tail wagging like there is no tomorrow. His message was clear. It only spoke of one word, “Play!”
How often do you play in your life? When you were a child, the world was like a perpetual playground. You could use almost anything around you as a toy. The ground could become lava, chairs could become islands, pillows on the floor are stepping stones to keep your feet from ‘getting wet’ and a stick could be a lightsaber. You saw the world with wonder through those bright inquisitive eyes. Life was fun, even if you had little to nothing. A large box could easily be converted into a tank, a house, a fort, or even a time machine! You relied on your imagination more than your knowledge to navigate your journey through life.
Somehow along the way, you got serious. Through shaping from the environment, from adults’ influences including your parents and teachers and the society, you were taught to give up play like a child and be more ‘like a grown-up’. You were convinced that games are for kids. That is a mistake.
Life is a game, supposed to be played with great enthusiasm, especially if you desire to succeed. It is easy to forget how to play. You first had knowledge ‘put in’ you with all the syllabus and facts to learn and examinations to take at school. It is easy to forget that Education comes from the Latin word ‘educare’ which means to ‘draw out’, not ‘put in’. The aim of education should be to draw out the genius, the potential in each child, not cram information in. And the easiest way to allow a child to be drawn out and to see her personality is through play.
What would your life look like if you had more play? What would your experience of your work feel like if there was more play? Imagine if you viewed your work as a craft, as a game in which you wish to excel. Would it be more enjoyable? Would you be more productive without feeling drained? And should you be tired at the end of the day, would you feel better as you got tired from playing rather than from working? How would that make you feel? Find a job that you love and you would never have to work a day in your life.
What would your relationship look like if you played more? Fill it up with spontaneity, laughter, festivity and youth, and even wild abandonment. When was the last time you ‘played’ with your partner? How often do you do that? As a child, you played daily. Every day, without a doubt, you would be looking for something or someone to play with. It is when we became adults when we took on the responsibilities of life, it became ‘normal’ and ‘right’ to be more serious and we were told to ‘grow up’. Children are our teachers. Adults are nothing more than deteriorated children. Imagine if you could connect to others just like a child does. If you are enjoying yourself, you laugh. There is no hiding laughter due to decorum, perceived notions, or imagined ideas. If you do not like someone, you show it. There is no hypocrisy, false associations, or devious schemes. What would your life look like if you could express your emotions clearly and plainly? Repressed emotions tend to come out somehow, usually at unexpected moments.
Does it have to be like this? Why not bring more play into your life? Find time to be more reckless and silly. Life is way too important to be taken seriously. Instead, you should be taking humour more seriously. Be more imaginative and courageous at your workplace. Bring curiosity back into your day. Get back to the sense of wonder and awe in your daily experience with others and life. Remember the time when your life is full of make-believe and how you would enjoy every single moment in this journey called living.
When you find yourself in despair and stress, look towards a child or a pet. Observe how do they live their lives. With our huge brains and small hearts, there are lessons on play that we might yet learn.
When you are dressed for work or about to meet your partner, when someone asks you what are you doing, I challenge you to say with gusto, the only word that matters, “Play”!
Sprite understands the importance of play. Do you?