I'd Like to Teach the World to Play
By Marcia Singer, MSW
“A playmate is anyone, anything with whom you are alive and light-hearted.
Trust life, express freely, know you belong, and Play with the Moment.” -MS
I’ve spent much of my writing life on important but overlooked or unpopular subjects, but none more perplexing than Play. Seldom does anybody take the subject "seriously" enough to study, write about --or publish. At least, not where adults are concerned. And yet ostensibly, everyone wants more of it in their lives.
To be more exact, people say they want more “fun.” Fun and Play are not exactly equivalent. Play is the greater category, with fun being contained within play, but not vice versa. Play can be quiet and gentle, loud, boisterous, daring, pensive, solitary or rousing en masse. "Fun" doesn't describe all of play's moods, modes and guises.
In any case, our society is at war with itself about work versus play, equating the former with being responsible and mature, and play with being irresponsible or frivolous and childish. All too often play either falls by the wayside or is reduced to frantic efforts at having fun. “I work hard, and I play hard,” goes the adage.
True play is never hard. It’s the smoothest, easiest, gentlest and most awesome way to engage in an activity, and to really connect with another that I’ve experienced. True play, authentic play is a grace. You and your playmate, your friend have no animosity. There’s trust, innocence--and power. Resourcefulness. That’s because play is fearless and open to ideas, movements, innovation. Play activates creativity. It’s juicy. In a real sense, it’s sexual too--meaning it’s fiery in a pure, engaging, energy way. It turns you on about being alive. Most sexual activity lacks play, sadly, as does every other great arena for passion, because sex play requires honest connection, intimacy, letting our insides join together, too. Real play dissolves time and space, and makes ready friends out of players.
All the more reason to play, to get everyone learning how to play together. To make peace together out of the joy, the laughter--even the tears that play brings up in its wake of remembering what’s been lost.
Yet even I, a so-called expert, often have to psych myself up to risk initiating play outside the boundaries of my official playshops. I must risk the intimacy or risk the failure, as if I’m scared to fail in so sacred an endeavor. (Ever notice that “sacred” and “scared” are almost the same thought? And “scarred” a close third?)
I am scarred, weary and gaunt with hunger for deep play, for high play. For play with my own species. I turn to the wind, the animals, the rustle of the leaves for playful companionship, and they immediately Understand. But my human friends so often turn away from the Presence, the Spontaneity that original play demands...
I envision myself playing for peace. Playing for Life, playing for Joy, for Healing, for a sense of belonging. Play transforms “be longing” into “belonging.” It encourages the personal demons to come out to be included, appreciated, hugged, celebrated. Play brings out the personal genius in each one of us, and the joy of being alive. It’s sheer light-hearted freedom of impression and expression, shared with Other.
I’d like to teach the world to play: I don’t think this is a frivolous idea. Rather one whose time is due.