Watching children play can bring back memories of when your life was as carefree and play came naturally. Two quotes that I had in my quote collect seemed to go together and cry out today for a blog post –
“It is a happy talent to know how to play.” – Ralph Waldo Emerson
“We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” – George Bernard Shaw (I’ve used Shaw’s quote in this blog in the past.)
I’m not sure when most people stop taking time to just play, but I can remember people telling me, “Grow up. You’re too old to play.” How sad that we use “play shaming” to discourage children from playing. Somehow taking away that hallmark of childhood sems important to adults. Perhaps they just want to share their unhappiness at not being able to play anymore themselves.
So, somewhere along the way in life we lose that ability to just play – oblivious to the rest of the world and content in the fantasy land of our play.” I think that may happen somewhere around middle school time, when recess turns from random fun on the playground to “organized activities” – how adult of us.
We were not competing when we played, just playing for the fun of it. Remember when “Who’s it?”, was more important than, “What was your score on that last hole?” Most of what we adults call play is just another competition, slightly different from work but something that we “work at” all the same. Even adult Dodge Ball is not the same playful game that we knew as kids. We forgot how to just play – without rules and competition, without winners and losers, without a plan other than to have fun.
Sometimes you might see an elderly person engaging in playful behavior (at least as much as they are able) with their grandchildren or just neighborhood kids. Many older people have decided that they have been taking life much too seriously and need to relearn how to let go and just play. They may say, “I don’t care what you think, I’m having fun.” They are playing again; sometimes, if only in their minds.
We can’t stop the progression of age, but we do not have to grow “old” if we can recapture the ability to play. So, lighten up, don’t be so serious all the time. Re-develop the happy talent that Emerson spoke of and relearn how to play. You don’t have to be competing to play, there is no score kept when you play, just fun.
Come on. Let’s go out and play.
Now, “Who’s it?”