To play. To pretend to be something, someone else, to live freely and laugh brightly at the sunshine and rain, to forget who you are and all of your adult confines and expectations for just a moment. To be whoever you want to be.
Definition of play
- 1 [no object] engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose:the children were playing by a pool her friends were playing with their dolls
- [with object] engage in (a game or activity) for enjoyment:I want to play Snakes and Ladders
- amuse oneself by engaging in imaginative pretence:the boys were playing at soldiers
- (play at) engage in without proper seriousness or understanding
I have been thinking a lot about play the last few days, as I have been mostly stuck indoors whilst Cape Town has been drowned in rain and hail. I have missed the freedom of playing on the beach, sitting on a rock and singing songs to myself with a seal for company as he splashes amongst the kelp. I have missed my sandy playground where I indulge myself in the nature that surrounds me. It goes without saying that I have also missed seeing the sharks and being at sea each day. The ocean is another one of my playgrounds. I like to either be next to her depths or within them playing at being a mermaid swimming gracefully amongst the sharks.
As I returned home from work the other day I watched a seal hunting behind the waves at Fishhoek beach. He darted back and forth at great speed, turning impossibly quickly as he weaved his silky body this way and that, his prey just out of reach of his jaws. He didn’t catch his prey despite his best efforts but then he started to play. He raced behind the waves, leaping out of the ocean repeatedly and then raced into the waves to surf them to the beach. As the waves curled and broke he flew down their faces, sometimes leaping from the crest of the wave high into the air as the water propelled him forwards. I couldn’t stop laughing at his acrobatics and sheer enjoyment of play.
Like most of us, I can take life far too seriously at times when I get bogged down by my own expectations of who I should be and what I should be doing. I really need play to escape and remind myself how to exist, laugh and do something for the sheer fun of it. And by playing I release the creativity in me again, release my inner happy. It brings back my passion to create and inspire. Who knew play could be so useful? I don’t think it had occurred to me that it is anything other than fun and giggles until quite recently.
We all need to play more, make play a daily part of our lives.
In fact I think we all need to make our lives as much about play as is humanly possible. Turn the idea of ‘work’ and ‘duty’ on its head and make them playful, full of curiosity and about having fun. I have a presentation to give to a group of students in the coming weeks and instead of being nervous I am going to make it an opportunity for me to play. An opportunity for me to be creative, to engage the students and make them laugh and have fun. By doing that and approaching it with a curious and playful mind not only will I enjoy it more and be less judgmental of my performance but the students will get the best of me. They will learn more because they will be having fun. So this week I am going to focus on being these things in everything I do:
Be Open Minded
Be full of Laughter
Be thankful for my mistakes and hope for more. I am learning and growing
Play can make us happy, help us feel free to be ourselves and so help us learn and be confident. It can help us contribute to this world with love and laughter in our souls. That is a pretty amazing thought for something that is free, doesn’t require a prescription, can be done alone or with others and whenever you want to for as long as you want to. Wow. What else can this wonder drug achieve then? Can it help us be healthier? Help us live longer and create deep and meangingful relationships with others? I believe it can do all of those things and more. In fact I know it can.
My play keeps me fit mentally, physically and spiritually. It allows me to explore and brings me peace and it can do the same for you.
I play these two computers games with a certain someone that I adore; as my brother would call him ‘my phantom boyfriend’ as he apparently exists but I don’t mention him. Anyway, that’s a whole other story to go into one day…but today is about play. Through our play we have come to know each other deeply as friends. We have shared a huge amount of laughter, adventures in person and online, we have been there for each other through tough times and grown into a companionable silence and understanding of each other that just keeps on getting better. All this from a game that involves brushing bison and a card game that I still don’t understand but love. Without our play where would we be?
So today I encourage you all to go and experience this wonder drug called Play for yourselves. Go and take half an hour to play with a friend, with your children, you family or just on your own. Try and turn the work you are dreading into an opportunity to play and act your way through it. Go play and be free.
Find it funny, laugh at your mistakes and just play this game called life.