When I reference the word “play” it conjures up images of children running through water sprinklers, and making paper arts only they can explain. As children we did all sorts of fun things, not because we really knew what we were doing…not even because we were trying to master something, but simply because they were fun.
Adulthood has a way of taking play and making it a bad thing. It doesn’t sound productive and useful in the working world, does it? Yet even as adults, play is a vital part of expressing meaning and purpose, and who we are under the façade of “professional accountant” (or whatever your profession is).
In Alan Watts’ book The Taboo Against Knowing Who You Are he unpacks the word person, which comes from the Latin persona “which was originally the mega-phone mouthed mask used by actors in the open-air theatres of Greece and Rome, the mask through (per) which sound (sonus) came.” I find it fascinating that what we put on display publicly is a version of ourselves, designed to help us each get through our days as successfully as possible (whatever “success” looks like for you). In contrast, during play we are often our true, creative, silly, open, wonderful selves that allow us access to heartfelt expression of connection (or re-connection) to our real selves. When was the last time you laughed so hard you hiccuped? When was the last time you did something preposterous at work? Audacious? How about just plain fun?
We need play in our lives, both at home and at work. In Western society we’ve taken play and made it un-fun (“I have to do 30 minutes on the treadmill each day…”). Truth is, without play we lose access to the benefits of all our hard work, and, when we are not trying new things, being audacious or willing to be a “beginner” again, we are also losing relevance. To our work and to those around us. Play is a way to connect with those we love and those we respect, and to stay in touch with our deepest most innovative and resourceful selves. These are the vital ingredients to being effective in our careers and work.
So, carve out some time to do that thing you’ve been wanting to indulge in your work; it may go nowhere, but if it was fun it’s still a win. Go on, you know your inner child is begging you to.
“May all beings learn how to nourish themselves with joy each day”