When we contemplate the world we live in, a world of jobs, family responsibilities, environmental threats, war, financial instability and endless politics, it can be difficult to give ourselves permission to play. We know that "All work and no play makes Johnny a dull boy," but somehow we have convinced ourselves that we should only play once all the work is done. What a terrible, stifling, soul-destroying, dehumanizing restriction to put on ourselves!
I'm sure that our short stay on this planet is supposed to be fun. When you think of it, what sane person would choose misery over joy, burdens over lightness, or slavery over freedom? It is a true testament to the perversity of the human spirit that our culture nurtures this monstrous imbalance. Even worse, most of us have bought into this premise hook, line and sinker. Past the age of 12 or so, play becomes somewhat suspect. The message is, "Grow up, settle down, get a job, raise a family." They never seem to add, "but remember every once in a while to take off your shoes and run barefoot through a dew-soaked field just for the hell of it."
To those whose god is Progress rather than Being, the very notion of play is threatening. After all, if we were to decide that we wanted to devote more of our time to play, we might decide that we've had about enough Progress for now, thank you very much, and perhaps it is time to enjoy the fruits of our labour. To those with inhuman agendas such ideas are heresy, and must be rooted out at every turn. So they carefully organize our play, giving us professional sports where we can act as spectators, receiving a simulation of play while never straying outside the corporate hive, and all the while laying our admission fees on the altar of Progress.
Let's do a little experiment. Imagine a big grassy field. On that field is one lone person turning endless somersaults. What is your reaction? For many of us it will be something like, "How strange! I wonder why they're doing that, there seems to be no reason for it." Now imagine that same field, but with a hundred people in it turning somersaults. Now our reaction is different. It's probably more along the lines of, "Ah, there must be some kind of event going on. That looks like fun, I wonder who is sponsoring it?" Does anyone else feel uncomfortable with what those reactions say about the world we have created?
Play reconnects us to our inner child, to that core of endless creativity, innocence and fun that ranks right up there with love as a reason for living. Take time to play. If it makes you uncomfortable at first, do it with your eyes closed so no one can see you. Keep playing, and eventually you might think to yourself, "Hey this isn't as bad as I thought!" With enough practice you might decide that an hour of play is more valuable than an hour of overtime, and why should you spend so much of your life doing things that aren't fun? Be careful, though, that way lies sanity.
As a great sage once said, "Life is short. Eat dessert first!"