Ways We Play
Funnily enough, play isn’t child’s play. Well, it is, but not the way adults play it.
Think of sport and there’s none of the joyful exuberance and imagination of the way children play. Sport is serious, and it’s played to win. Although sport is often called “play”, it’s more like a modern day imitation of gladiatorial battle.
Instead of easygoing lightness and levity, adult game play is strategic, status related, and potentially a big revenue spinner. Many quietly lament this version of play, believing sporting games have lost something essential in the quest for bigger names, publicity, and greater stakes.
Mind you, we also play other games where these factors aren’t relevant. Such play is much more akin to the play of older kids. There is often competiveness, acting out, and tactics laced with laughter. Think of cards, board games, and social sports and you’ve got the picture. In this type of structured play, we socialize along agreed lines, reinforcing our sense of identity.
If that’s the main way you play, that’s great. As you know, too many of us don’t do anything, let alone watch professionals playing games instead. Yet, there is also another way of enjoying play, which adds even more pleasure and bonds us closer together.
Consider the kind of play that’s unstructured, childlike, and spontaneous in nature. Coming with a laugh, and leaving the same way, this kind of playful fun is about sharing moments together with humor, antics, and the goodwill of belonging. It’s that kind of play that appears when:
- A friend pulls a funny face to make you laugh in a longwinded meeting
- Your “bestest” starts tickling you and the moment descends into a riot of chasing and spontaneous hard laughter
- A small child gleefully engages you in a game that only little kids will play.
All of those precious moments where we stop being grown up, responsible, and serious, and let our guard down are delightful. You can find a great deal of togetherness in that kind of play. Better yet, it’s the best de-stressor I know.
You can be as uptight as a ball of string one moment, and within a few silly giggles, feel yourself completely refreshed. That’s an impressive outcome from what seems to be nothing more than playful tomfoolery.
If you don’t have any of this latter kind of play in your life, find people who do. Get together with people who don’t take themselves too seriously and make time for a laugh. Happily, such levity is infectious. So, sometime soon, you might even be making your cranky neighbor crack a smile. It’s possible. But need to have a lot more fun to fan it.
How you play makes all the difference. And to think, you don’t even need a ball.
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