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Creative Play

The dictionary refers to play as recreation. This is a very significant word. Hyphenate it and it becomes re-creation. This is play in the fullest sense of the term: to make new, to vitalize again, to inspire with life and energy. This is creativity" at its best. Everything creative contains some element of play.

Playing is a form of self-nourishment. Playing is not something you do. It is rather an attitude you create, at any time, in any place, that transforms the mundane into the divine, the boring into the joyful, the required into the desired, and the present moment into a sacrament. With this type of nurturance we are more likely to experience equilibrium and to conserve the energy that is often wasted in frenetic activity. In this way, playing strengthens us.

Take a moment to identify the words that are associated with play: laughter, frolic, fun, exciting . . . and lots of other similarly active words. But play can also be described as absorbing, fascinating, peaceful, beautiful, flowing, and restful. Perhaps one of the reasons we don't play more is that we have defined play inadequately. We have looked around at what the society tells us is "fun" to do, and we've accepted this as the meaning of play. We have remembered our childhood and have sought out swings and slides to give us pleasure. We have forgotten natural abilities we had for enjoying a rock, an abandoned tire, or a cardboard box. We frequently consider play as the opposite of work, thus solidifying the dichotomy between the two. Play must take a backseat to purposeful, "meaningful" activity. It is something to be done after hours, or on weekends, or with children. And it frequently costs a lot.

Mary recently posted a list of goals on her bathroom mirror. One of them was to save more money so that she could "do fun things." This attitude is far from uncommon. Many people are frustrated during their vacation periods and only too glad to get back home. They have accepted the notion that play is something you do, some place to go, an expensive camper or piece of sporting equipment. When it doesn't prove "fun" for them, they feel disappointed and out of sorts. (What's wrong with me, anyway?)

What has happened to us in our maturation process that makes adult play so different from child's play?

Life's door, love's door, God's door - they all open when you are playful. They all become closed when you become serious. —Osho

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