Re-posted From: http://KindCommunication.org/2015/09/21/play/
When was the last time you just played?
Remember when you were a kid, and you could just be lost for hours in your room playing? Or you were out with friends in the woods exploring and creating elaborate fantasy worlds together? Or even just at the end of the street playing games that brought you and your friends closer together?
When was the last time you played like that?
In the adult world, most people don’t really play but they “relax” or engage in some sort of “recreation”. But relaxation and recreation are different than play. To relax we might read a book, go to a spa, or watch a favorite movie or TV show. Relaxing is the letting go of stress, and the enjoyment of contentment. We create a moment where our cares disappear, and we can be content with the moment, even peaceful. But sometimes play is wild, exhilarating, and loud. Relaxation is rarely any of those three.
Recreation is also not really play. It’s closer than relaxation, but it still isn’t quite the same as that play we would engage in as kids. We might play video games or board games. We might go camping or play some sort of sport. But this isn’t quite play. It’s close, but not quite. Sometimes play is just something in one’s own head, it’s something you can do in the privacy of your own room. That isn’t something normally associated with “recreation”.
So what constitutes real, actual play?
First, genuine play is creative. Genuine play involves being creative, even if you never actually physically create something. Being creative is about employing one’s imagination, allowing one’s intuition & subconscious to have the run of the show. Genuine play is about getting outside of the norms of ordinary existence. Genuine play is freedom to explore.
Second, genuine play brings us fully into the moment. When we were playing as kids, we were fully present to whatever we were doing. Genuine play demands this full presence. It is like a meditation. We are fully present to what we’re doing, the rest of the world fades away for those few hours, and that is what makes play so rejuvenating.
Finally, genuine play is joyful. Joy is hard for most adults. Most of us mute joy with anxiety. “Better be ready because this experience is going to end.” Or “there are more important things to be doing right now.” Joy is hard, for some of us this can be the most difficult human emotion. Sure we can feel happy, content, peaceful, and excited easily, but joy is something else. Joy is the sense of being fully alive. Joy is the recognition that this moment is perfect. Joy is this experience of being fully connected to self, others, and the world. And since this emotion is so difficult for us to sit with without muting it in some way, we need to practice it. Joy is essential to our health; it is through joy that we remember who we really are.
So go play! Get together with some friends and each of you take turns writing a children’s story together. Take your partner on a date where you build a fort in the backyard together and pretend like you have some precious gold you must defend from raiders. Find some objects in your room that can stand in for characters in a story (or better yet, make some) and create a whole fantasy world. Yes, you will probably feel embarrassed, shy, and insecure about this at first. But that initial discomfort is like the pain when a doctor resets your broken arm. It is the pain that precedes healing. If it feels uncomfortable, it probably means you’ve stumbled upon true, genuine play. Don’t shy away, jump right in.
KindCommunication.org is a project by a close friend of Wiki World Order, Alex Leach. WWO fully supports the study, practice, and teaching of non-violent communication as one of the core solutions which already exists.