Do not cease to play
“We do not cease to play because we grow old, we grow old because we cease to play.” — George Bernard Shaw
Everybody who needs more fun time, raise your hands. OK, that’s settled…we need to make more time for play!
Of course, when I say “play” I’m not talking about watching TV, or even playing “Angry Birds” or “Words with Friends.” Not that those activities aren’t sometimes fun and maybe even beneficial (although I really wouldn’t know, because I don’t do any of them), but they’re still mostly passive and not particularly creative. From what I can tell, these activities primarily involve marching to the beat of a tune someone else made up. While they can be entertaining, even addictive, they aren’t really what I think of as play.
I would define play as amusing exercise that stretches the physical and/or creative ability. Even seemingly repetitious physical activities such as swings and merry-go-rounds develop the vestibular system and teach the fundamentals of physics through action. Artwork and crafts, whether the making of kites, model airplanes, scrapbooks, painting, or endless other possibilities, allow for much freedom of design and execution. And sports — provided they are understood as a form of play rather than a ruthlessly competitive opportunity to defeat an opponent — provide good chances to interact with others in a light-hearted yet challenging venue.
By that definition, when did you last spend time at play? Might you have almost forgotten how? If so, find a child, a dog or other playful creature from whom you can re-learn. Kids seem to understand that play is serious business, and most of them plan for it accordingly. If you are lucky enough to hear a child asking you “Will you please play with me?” try your best to answer, “Actually, I’d love to” and allocate more than five or ten minutes to it. Not only will the child be pleasantly surprised; you probably will be too — it might turn out to be a lot more fun that you imagined.