“Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.” Heraclitus
“Play allows us to develop alternatives to violence and despair; it helps us learn perseverance and gain optimism.” Stuart Brown M.D.
“Play is a major avenue for learning to manage anxiety. It gives the child a safe space where she can experiment at will, suspending the rules and constraints of physical and social reality. In play, the child becomes master rather than subject…. Play allows the child to transcend passivity and to become the active doer of what happens around her. " Alicia F. Lieberman
Most often it is our own grandchildren, but I do love to watch children of all sorts while they go about the very serious business of playing. I always learn something while watching and new doors of thought open as I contemplate their wisdom at play. She looked so serious when she paused here during a good session of playing, as if she were consumed by deep thoughts whose strength required a moment of stillness and silence before she could return to playing. Like watching dreams pass across the face of a sleeping child, I could not help being fascinated and inspired to travel down my own avenues of contemplation.
“Almost all creativity involves purposeful play.” ~ Abraham Maslow
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
The most joyfully content, most creative people I have known in Life are those that know how to keep their inner child alive by making the time to play. More often than naught today, it is the Artist, whatever their medium, that reminds others who have lost this knack in the process of becoming an adult of how vital playfulness truly is to each of us. Through our creations we invite those lost in the cold weariness of maturity back into the vibrant happy world colored by the wisdom of our youth. In many ways, how we play and how we view the importance of this activity defines who we are on a daily basis.
Children are amazing. Hand them shovels, rakes and implements of destruction and they will spend the day ordering the world to their secret delights. What some might view as “work” or even a punishment, children automatically see as an opportunity for fun, excitement, new wonders, and perhaps treasure waiting to be discovered.
I love to watch and listen to children at play, because they have yet to convince themselves that grown ups just don’t do such things. The sounds of laughter, running feet, the creak of a swing, the whispered plans of pirates, the kind decrees of young queens hosting a tea party… these are an artform all their own, wild as the winds and old as the seabed. I encourage you today to pick up your favorite toys, and make a playdate with your inner child.
Follow the example of these sages of the playground. Stop telling yourself it isn't "productive" to play, please! No need for explanations or feeling self-conscious. What may look to others as silliness or a waste of time is actually vital to our well being; physical, mental, emotional and spiritual. Play is serious business! Break out some crayons! Find the nearest swing set and try to kick the sky! Who knows what inspiration you may find, what shadows you may snake-like shed, what new worlds you may discover?
“Ritual grew up in sacred play; poetry was born in play and nourished on play; music and dancing were pure play…. We have to conclude, therefore, that civilization is, in its earliest phases, played. It does not come from play…it arises in and as play, and never leaves it.” Johan Huizing
'We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." George Bernard Shaw