What is play?
What is play exactly? Why do we play? Why do children play? Why do animals play? When you see dogs playfully roughhousing or dolphins joyously leaping out of the water, what is going on? I’d venture to say that the spirit of play flowing through us is the energetic joy of the universe manifesting through our beings in uplifts of cosmic energy! Play is joy. Play is flow. Play is deep. Play has no purpose other than being and becoming. I read once that “humans are the otters of the universe”—and like otters we are meant to play. We are meant for joy. We are meant for freedom. And with the right ingredients—time, space, and materials—we play.
“Wake up to find out that you are the eyes of the world,” sang Jerry Garcia. We are also the players of the world. Play is the design of our consciousneses and bodies to explore, pretend, share, imagine and create. Don’t worry about worksheets for your children—that system wasn’t part of the intelligent design of our biology. Our internal system is programmed with a plan to play. And through play children discover the world and themselves in it. They test their boundaries and imagine new worlds. When we adults see that, when we remember our own natural childhoods and the moments that made us, when we can actually take deep breathes and trust that the greater system knows what it’s doing, then we can learn to let our children play. And support their play. And be amazed by their play.
Play is where the good stuff happens. Play is learning to navigate risks both physical and social. Play is where children sing and dance and draw and sculpt. Play is building. Play is inventing. Play is wondering. Play is discovering. Play is frolicking. Play is pointless in the most positive way. Play exists for play. During play, time is stretched. In play, imagined worlds are real. In play, children try on personas and test out situations. Play is like the dream time awakened. Play makes and breaks. Play tests boundaries. Play goes too far. Play tries again. Play comes back for more. Play is loyal and always waiting for the player to play. Play is universal. Play is our deepest selves. Play is all that we all are. Play is beneath the surface. Play is fun. Play is sly. Play is funny. Play is not funny. Play is messing about. The play of world opens in front of you and closes behind you. Play is the spirit of life and the twinkle in our eyes. Play is making, mistaking, messing around, making matters worse, and making things better. Play is timeless. Play has always existed. Play has whispered to children since before time began. Play connects us. Play pushes us. Play celebrates us and we celebrate play. And as we do, and as we create room for our children to play, we are creating space for the greatest natural, biological, developmental energy that exists on our planet. Say yes to play. Step back and be amazed!