Thursday, October 13, 2011

Playing for its Own Sake

Quite a week. From an article published in The Atlantic:

"Since about 1955 ... children's free play has been continually declining, at least partly because adults have exerted ever-increasing control over children's activities," says the author Peter Gray, Ph.D., Professor of Psychology (emeritus) at Boston College. Gray defines "free play" as play a child undertakes him- or her-self and which is self-directed and an end in itself, rather than part of some organized activity."

Hmmm. Seems like the same would apply to adults, except adults are the ones who have been restricting their own "free play" with a steady diet of TV, Facebook, Twitter and other brainless pursuits (HF is guilty of all of these, minus the TV, mostly, except for the season finale of Breaking Bad, Survivor and cooking shows. We are only human.); where is the self-directed play for adults that is an end in itself?

We are definitely overstructured human beings, and we need to relax. This is difficult these days, but I would argue that all eras had their own struggles, and ours seems to be one of the most tightly wound in history. We also have a very self-centered view of the world, every one of us, that makes it difficult to step back and see the extent of our problems versus others.

I also found out that the Dalai Lama has 2.6 million Twitter followers and follows no one himself. There are all sorts of reasons for this, some more political than others, but I like to think it's because he follows himself. Perhaps he is so peaceful because he knows when it is time to play, stopping (meditating) when he feels frantic. We don't generally do that; even when we go on vacation we are desperate to have fun, jam-packing our time off with activities (probably why the ideal vacation is less than a week - we need a vacation from our vacation).

So here is to the sitting on the front porch, watching the cars go by; the toes in the sand; the aimless meandering through city streets, seeing what is to be seen. The simply sitting and doing...nothing. Here is to playing for its own sake.

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