Do you play? I had to learn to play…more like I am learning to play. Intellectually, theoretically, developmentally, and socially, I know the benefits of play, but play isn’t for some, like me, a natural experience. “It is a happy talent to know how to play.” said Ralph Waldo Emerson, an American writer. I want that happy talent. I was sitting by a lake today watching people play and thought I would ponder on what others say about play.
In the 90’s I was a fan of Leo Buscaglia, an education professor and motivational speaker. When I read what he said about play, I smiled because I could see his joy and love of life exuding as he spoke: “I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things… I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind.” I have a friend who plays well. She runs and skips, touches everything, and finds the ability to play no matter where she is. She, like Leo, inspires me.
Plato says, “You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” How true. I find much joy in sitting in a park or going to a ball field and watching people play. I am good at letting my mind play – there is much passion there for me. With that being said, I know how good play is for the mind, body and spirit. Listen to what others have to say: “Play is the exultation of the possible.” Martin Buber, German Jewish biblical translator 1878-1965; “Whoever wants to understand much must play much.” Gottfried Benn, German physician 1886–1956; and “Play is training for the unexpected.” Marc Bekoff, Contemporary American biologist. There is much purpose in play. Play brings understanding; prepares for the unexpected; allows creativity, creation, and experimentation (“When children pretend, they’re using their imaginations to move beyond the bounds of reality. A stick can be a magic wand. A sock can be a puppet. A small child can be a superhero.” Fred Rogers, American children’s television host, 1928–2003); manages stress (“Those who play rarely become brittle in the face of stress or lose the healing capacity for humor.” Stuart Brown, MD, Contemporary American psychiatrist); and teaches theory, physics, philosophy, and truth (“Children learn as they play. Most importantly, in play children learn how to learn.” O. Fred Donaldson, Contemporary American martial arts master).
I play today so much more than I ever did in my life. It took learning to take time for me. It took stopping the chaos instead of trying to build play into the chaos. I had to re-member that play taught me as much, if not more, than any theory or text, memorization, or study could. I hope there is an integrative thought here for you. Now turn off the computer and come out and play with me.