Before we look at why we don’t play, let’s look at why we should…
In children, play is essential for developing social, emotional, cognitive, and physical skills. These days, we find an emphasis on structured play as opposed to simple send the kid out the door play, believing that’s how we keep their brains growing. But rather than a waste of time or just a fun distraction, play is a time when your child is often learning the most. Sometimes, however, play is simply Joy. The sweetest ending of a day of play comes supper with a family, a bath, a couple books and a good night’s sleep. Any of you who had that opportunity, knew that time as Peace.
Play is not just for children; it matters for adults as well. Our lives are so structured and distracted. We talk about playing on our devices, but their job is to engage us and keep us engaged. While it provides the chance to forget about life’s demands, this is in fact the polar opposite of play, which offers the opportunity to be social in unstructured, creative ways.
Play is a gift. We forget that our ancestors, the hunter-gatherers, spent far less time working than we do. And when they weren’t working, they played. We’ve invented all these time-saving machines, and we no longer take time to play. When was the last time you made a snow angel, rolled down a hill, built a sand castle, or did a cannonball off the side of the pool. When was the last time you laughed yourself silly just because something was ridiculous?
I looked around a little and found Catherine Price had written a book that was at least one-third about Play — The Power of Fun: How to Feel Alive Again. (She is also the author of How to Break Up with Your Phone. Could any of us use this?) She says that Fun is made up of Play, Connection, and Focus. I would say these are all fundamental to Peace.
Too often we spend our time building fire walls that keep us from reaching around or over. At work, these are necessary to protect information. Leaving work, which some of never do, we need to take the time for fun. Is your exercise fun? Is your food fun? People say don’t play with your food. We shouldn’t waste it in food fights, but shouldn’t we fill it up with laughter and good wishes for everyone’s health, as we grow it, as we prepare it, and as we share it.
When going about the very serious business of Peace, play! We may have hard conversations to have, but they will be much easier if we play beforehand. And when the conversations get thorny, we can stop and play again, until we can start again with a full heart.
Not surprisingly, Play delivers many health benefits. Want to live longer and stronger? Then Play. Wanna wade in the water with me for Peace?
Salaam, Shalom, Peace. Blessed be.