Paying for Not Playing
“Play, more than piety, more than charity or vigilance,” says the author Tom Robbins, “is what allows human beings to transcend evil.” And the lack of it gives rise to evil, as Psychiatrist Stuart Brown found in his study of 26 convicted murderers who had been deprived of play in their childhoods. Those who did play, however, did so by viciously bullying other children and teasing, even torturing animals! Based on new studies on play, Brown stated the human brain and that of animals strongly suggests it may be as important to life as sleeping and dreaming!
That play is as important as sleep I found fascinating as it is typically judged to be nonproductive time. We American descendents of those zealous hard working, somber and cheerless Puritans struggle to make time in our lives for play. Doing so can make us feel guilty of that old indictment, “Stop playing around, and get back to work!” Instead we choose recreation; the very word “re-creation” being pregnant with purpose, and so permissible.
Universal is the desire to be seen as attractive and to be liked by others. So “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy,” is loaded with wisdom for every Jill and Jack since no one desires to be “dull,” which implies boring, uninteresting and bland! Just as the lack of playing has consequences, so does sleep deprivation cause fatal automobile accidents and low productivity at work. Would a study of industrious adults who never played reveal in them foul play? Adult foul or polluted play is cruel teasing, malicious remarks and nasty sarcasm.
For any hardworking 24/7, upwardly-mobile person today to take time from work to play on a regular basis would be considered madness—and it may be! G.K. Chesterton said the characteristics that the modern mind prides itself upon are precisely those of madness! Madmen are steadfastly logical, unable to be carefree, relax and laugh at themselves and the world. In short, they can’t play. Ernest Becker in The Denial of Death says, “…to live is to play at the meaning of life…(and engage in) childlike foolishness.” So adults play with “the meaning of life” by foolishness and folly since life is often crazy and irrational.
Adults who make or steal time to be playfully foolhardy will find their aging process retarded since playtime is linked to childhood. It can also grant immunity to maladies of our day like melancholic depression and despondency.
Play is like air, a worthless necessity of life. So check your agenda for the coming days to see if you have scheduled any time to horse around.