Life is PLAY

I had the pleasure of working in my daughter's preschool class a couple weeks ago. We played with rocks. We sorted the rocks. We asked questions about the rocks. We marveled at the textures, the shapes, the colors. Apparently, rocks rock. Then I had this epiphany: What we're doing right now is a microcosm. of life. This is the human experience, and it all comes back to PLAY. 

All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy
— someone in the 1950s

There's an interesting dichotomy between work and play, and one that has been around a while.

Let's unpack that for a moment. 

I see so many people resigning themselves through a workweek and waiting until Friday when they can finally "live it up." These people do work they "have to" do until they are "allowed" time to do things that are "fun." That sounds awful. 

This quote also captures a duality we all experience: Doing only things that are not fun will drain our spirit. No wonder everyone is ready for the weekend. 

The problem is what I mentioned above; work and play are dichotomized. What if work WAS play? What if life IS PLAY?

That sounds like it would be work worth having and life worth living. 

In every job that must be done
There is an element of fun
You find the fun and snap!
The job’s a game

And every task you undertake
Becomes a piece of cake
A lark! A spree! It’s very clear to see that

A spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down...
— "A Spoonful of Sugar" - from the film, Mary Poppins

For me, I've noticed that my best work happens while in a state of "play". My best runs happen when I'm having fun. My best writing happens when I'm present to joy and inspiration. My best speaking happens when I get immersed in the moment, in the zone. So much of our "work" is really less-than-productive, self-destructive, an avoidance and complaining of a life that were stuck if...

we couldn't actually do anything about it.. But we can. 

We can change our outlook. We can choose to make a game of what lies before us. Whatever our hands find to do, do with a full heart, a clear mind, a focused will. 

We can reframe our circumstances. Part of being human is making things mean something. What is our story about our job, about our relationships, about our life? We get to write it. 

We can shift our context. Maybe the setting of our story needs to change to maximize play. Hate your job? Find one you love. It sounds cliche, but I speak to you as someone who is thankful to be living this way. Do I make as much money as I could doing something else? No, not at the moment, but I can assure you, my quality of life surpasses what money alone can buy. 

We can play hard. Not only do people have an idea that there is a ceiling on fun (there isn't), they think that having fun also includes being sloppy and lazy. Fun is an escape in this way of thinking. Instead, play can inspire excellence. 

Maybe I'm late to the game in learning this, or maybe I'm just reintegrating my inner child with the rest of me, but I'm convinced more all the time....