What happened to play?
Did you make mud pies when you were a child? Perhaps you spent time in a playground or a sandbox. Did you build castles in the sand? What happened to the joyful spirit of play in your life?
I was raised in a conservative environment so work and conditioning started at a young age. I am not good about being indoctrinated so I noticed when anyone tried. To this day, I notice. I like to work but I do not like fear being used to try to get me to work or to work more. Unfortunately, creating of a toxic environment of fear and insecurity has an effect whether you like it or not. It causes sadness, pain and loneliness. And insecurity.
I experienced all of those things. The fear world causes us to pull back and stop fully engaging with life out of normal self-protection. When that happens a part of us dies a little bit at a time.
Who Gets Hurt?
Children are known to be sensitive to the hurt in others. Many comfort those around them who are in pain. They are not, however, sophisticated in understanding the source of that pain.
How many of us are taught that if we are not obedient and quiet, we are a source of pain to others? How many of us are taught that when we are joyful we are hurting others? How many of us are taught that happiness is something we earn? How many of us are taught that curiosity is bad? How many of us are taught that our creative, fully alive spirit is too much?
How many of us are taught that the more alive we are, the more of a burden we are?
No Room For Play
Trial and error are how we learn; it is how we become strong. So when we slowly close the door on play, we disempower ourselves and others. Playing is the basis of trial and error and give and take. Play helps us to be open to possibility and to the good wherever we find it.
Playing with others helps us learn to trust them even if they are very different from us.
Play: The Path To Empowerment
Play lets us be more process-oriented so that we are less focused on outcomes and more focused on our engagement in the trial and error process of creating. Play lets us work through a problem, so we learn how to do it. When we engage in play we learn when to move forward and when not to. We learn to act, reflect on our actions and make adjustments. We learn what works and what doesn’t and we acquire our own skills and knowledge independent of anyone else.
Children used to go outside to play all the time. It was important to do so because it gave you direct access to your experience and eventually helped you develop skill and wisdom. You did not require the validation of anyone else. Directness develops power. That appears to have changed and now young people have structured activities that are usually supervised and controlled.
Are they are better off?
Coming Into Our Own
We all need to find and take our place in the world. To do so we need to find our strengths and that occurs through play. Play enables us to take calculated risks and teaches us how to handle our successes and failures. Play makes failure a normal part of life. How many of us have a healthy attitude toward failure? In the interest of safety and security we may have given up our resilience and spirits and I am not sure that we have made the right bargain.
Play helps us become who we were meant to become. It helps is come into our own.
Which is why it is so important.