Tuesday, February 10, 2009


Stages 3, 4 & 5
I sanded the rough edges
(and in the process broke off an ear).
Stage 5 was the application of water color.

My exploration of what it means to play for the sake of playing is taking me...and I hope you, too...down some paths I didn't expect. The responses I've received (including those from my questions to friends over coffee and a Danish) for the most part put adult play into one of three categories: competition, performance, and observation. For example:
COMPETITION: tennis, hockey, tag football, broom ball
PERFORMANCE: preparing for a concert or taking part in a dance-centered activity
OBSERVATION: watching a game (pro's and children's, on site and on TV)
One response in particular continues to bump its away into my thoughts: "It seems," said one fellow, "that as adults, we play only with those things that are defined as OK. Fishing, for example, or tossing a football around." He went on to tell me that he'd never do something just for the sake of seeing if he could.... "You know, no audience, no one to show off for."

Then there was the very accomplished knitter who told me that she feels like she's playing whenever she picks up her knitting needles to work on a sweater or a hat or some other piece of apparel. "Have you ever knit something non-functional, something you create just for the sheer joy of seeing what happens?" "Oh no," she said. "I love knitting, but I really don't have time to take a chance that something won't turn out."
I've been watching kids at play lately. They appear oblivious to whether what they're doing will turn out or whether it's "age appropriate." As an adult, I can't recall the last time I did something just for the sheer joy of doing it...until I started messing around with puppets. I'm out of my element. I haven't a clue what I'll do with the little guy above, or if I'll even make any more. Heck...I may not even finish him! But this is the first time I can recall that I've done something for no reason at all...just for the sheer joy of the process. Keep the conversation going; I'll report back and let you know what folks are telling me. In the meantime, let's all play more! Given the bleak economic outlook, we could use a bit more joy.

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