Playing? At Your Age?
Do you need it? Most definitely. As I understand it, there is no age limit for play. But I notice there are cultural borders you may need to cross. For instance, Australians and Brits know that having fun means mucking around, playing up, and being silly. But there aren’t any good equivalents I know of in American. “Goofing off” sort of works. But it implies laziness and something negative. While, in Australian, being silly can mean playfulness and having a laugh.
Playing comes naturally to me. I can flick into being silly with a wink. But I know lots of people find playing awkward or even strange to do.
It alarms me watching people lose the joy of play. First, as kids, play comes number one as the preferred choice. Then, as years pass, the play spark fizzles. Playing becomes more structured and defined, until it loses its spontaneity and every whimsical pleasure gets squeezed out. No more play. Just movement, cleverness, and skills.
No wonder many of the books on play are written in a serious way. But how ironic is that? The mere fact writers have to speak with sober authority about the merits of play is tragic. Like writing dryly and earnestly about laughing (“Firstly, open your mouth and produce repeated staccato sounds from the back of the throat…”); it’s ridiculous.
Playing is simple, and profoundly natural, and dare I say, necessary. Without it, we are less confident about when to laugh, and too self-conscious about looking foolish. No wonder we are so prone to snapping.
Whereas, the need to impress others as a personal priority has definitely got hairs on it. Yes, winning approval matters. But when it defines us we lose our own compass. You and I need to be our genuine flawed, wonderfully human selves; first and foremost.
Which means, from now on, you should make room for play. Rediscover it. Observe it, and joyfully engage in it. It’ll do you good.