Do not cease to play

I admit it - Jeff and I enjoyed swings as much as the kids did! Torrance, CA, January 1990

I admit it – Jeff and I enjoyed swings as much as the kids did! Torrance, CA, January 1990

“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.

This post was first published seven years ago today. The original post, comments and photo are linked, along with two other related posts, below. These links to related posts, and their thumbnail photos, do not appear in the blog feed; they are only visible when viewing the individual posts by clicking on each one. I have no idea why, nor do I know how they choose the related posts. That’s just the way WordPress does things.


  1. I’m raising my hand. More fun time and play! 🙂
    One way i play often is with making up stories together.

    • That’s one of my favorite ways to play! I never tire of hearing, telling and re-telling stories. Thanks for stopping by!

  2. Good morning, Julia!
    I played with a kitten yesterday. Kittens and puppies don’t last, you know, so it’s a treat to play with one for a bit.

    • I remember when we would try to give away the kittens our mama calico cat would have each year. Often adults who politely declined our offers would say “You know the problem with kittens, don’t you? They grow up to be cats.” I always thought that sounded a bit harsh, especially to my cat-loving ears. As much as I loved Kitt Katt’s kittens, I always loved her more. Puppies are also heartbreakingly cute, but here again, I almost always love the dogs they grow into even more. And even though puppies and kittens don’t last in the strictest sense, they are definitely a renewable resource! But I agree, we should enjoy every second we are blessed to spend with them. Definitely lightens the heart, if only temporarily.

      • So true. Growing up, my cats developed personalities and responded more to me as a being (not just a plaything or food source).

        • I’ve always thought that animals who live closely with humans become more human in their behaviors. Admittedly the humans do start seeing them in an anthropomorphic light, which complicates the issue of just how accurate this perception is, but I think it must be true to at least some degree.

  3. MaryAnn

    GREAT photo! Such fun happening here!

    • Thanks Mary Ann! I’m glad you like it.

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