Monday, June 06, 2005

Playfully Yours

Did you notice, or is it just me, that for all the talk of "play" -- "players" and "play by the rules" and "playing games" and "playing it straight" -- there are very few people who are any good at playing.

In fact, the sad thing is mostly the only people who know how to play are kids. Go to a playground and watch them sometime, they are professionals. They do zany things with their bodies, how they prance around, how they change movements fast, furious, funny things these playful kids do are lovely to watch. They can teach us a thing or two.

And then when it comes to grown-ups, very few of us are really able to incorporate "play" into our lives. In fact, I can tell you pretty succinctly who plays and who doesn't when it comes to adults. [This is why most of us adults are so damned boring and kids find us unbearable. We spend our days complaining about co-workers, taxes and parking tickets. Yuck.]

Musicians are still "playing" and athletes "play" which is a fairly small group. Yes, and artists too of course.

And when you watch adults play, which I would describe as creatively using your body and brain to solve problems -- real-time creativity expressed in your body and intentions -- it's incredibly exciting to see people "making up the game" and playing. Playing anything. Just being playful.

Whether it's jazz musicians improvising -- making "real" their playful ideas about music and melody and rhythm -- or athletes playing games and pouring their heart and soul into unusual physical solutions to unusual strategic problems based on rules -- it's wonderful and inspiring to see.

There's a good case to be made for the idea that warriors are "at play" when they are at their most courageous and creative.

And even if your work is not inherently playful and you are not a soldier, an athlete, a musician or an artist, you are offered a great big playpen all day and all night -- the play of love, romance and sex. Good sex has this "game-changing" crazy playfulness and what a refreshment that is. And unfortunately, rare.

But getting back to it, back to being 7 years old, standing on your friend's doorstep. Ring the bell, see the mom, ask the question, "Can Joey come out to play?" That's the best question in the world, and if she says "Yes!" off you go and the two of you are just tossing stuff around and making crazy plans and goofing around and chalking up the sidewalk, whacking the ball out of the lot, starting a secret society, racing your go-kart, skating to the blinding speedy edge, tumbling into a heap and when it's dark, heading home, knowing you can conjure it all up again the next day.