Years ago, when I met Erik (my husband) in college, I was unnerved by his ability to switch contexts from whatever he might be doing to play. He was the smartest person I’d ever met. Why didn’t he take things more seriously? How could he so easily abandon self-control for…uhm,…fun? Wasn’t play a little “unseemly” for adults?
It was like he was wired to play—without a script!
Thank goodness! Because, through our friendship, I was surrounded by a bunch of people (Erik and his friends) that loved playing and didn’t care how they looked playing (or care about what anyone else thought about it, for that matter). Which is pretty awesome as I reflect on it now.
Back then, however, I didn't see it that way and got angry at him for involving me in playful moments.
Once, he and his friends scooped me up and carried me across across a heavily populated street, crowd-surfing style. Meanwhile, another friend held a big huge boom-box, blaring out some heavy metal song I didn't know. (I was more of an alt-rock/punk lover, myself.) We caused a scene and oh my word did I let him have it later for making me a part of that.
Honestly, I'd give anything to crowd surf over a street today.
Then, about 10 years later I met my dear friend, Jackie Wood, at Hewlett Packard. We developed a quick and easy friendship focused on collaboration, problem solving, and engineering quality. After we both left HP, this thread transformed into collaborations of a different sort centered on creativity and play. Just like Erik, Jackie was accomplished at play, embracing the unscripted journey wholeheartedly.
Naturally, with Erik and Jackie in my life, my own playful re-development was inevitable. And I learned that play is about play-for-play’s-sake, safe rebellion, trying on a role to see if it fits or needs an alteration, and about challenging the boundaries and rules to get to the truth and heart of a thing. It's about learning (or, an approach to learning) and practicing that which interests us in the moment while inspiring joy and fun. Plus, it's a super-fuel for your creativity, making it an essential practice I think.
Play is good—really, really good—for the heart, body, and spirit. And if you play often enough, you no longer need a reason to play. It just becomes a part of who you are, naturally.
That strikes me as kind of wonderful.