Why we Stop Playing and How to Prevent It

Soft Toys and Such? Or something even simpler?

I’ll start this article with a famous and probably far too obvious quotation from George Bernard Shaw – “we don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.” A quotation which is so very true in today’s society!

As we get old the need to play is overrun by the need to do the more mundane but necessary day to day chores so essential to life. Our minds are flooded with a subliminal consciousness of the necessary tasks that we need to be accomplished each day and with the arrival of this mandate sees the departure of what is essential creative pleasure.

The art of playing, and it is an art, gradually seeps from our list of primary abilities until eventually we forget how to play altogether. But “so what” I hear you cry! You may be thinking that you don’t need to play, that you’re a grown up and you don’t “play” anymore. You may also be in that fantastic period in your teens when you think “I wanna do grown up things and not act like a child anymore.” But how are you defining the word play? Does playing strictly mean playing with toys, teddy bears and soft toys? Does it mean marbles, British Bulldog and tag? The way you define playing is crucially important to understanding how nearly all of us loose the ability to actually do it.

Next time you are around children observe how they play. What could possibly be going on in their mind? Children still have that ability to imagine things in near crystal clarity because their imagination hasn’t been tainted by the pressures of growing up and the tidal wave of reality that it brings. That ability to detach yourself completely from awareness is the ultimate joy of childhood.

Adults still play of course, they just play differently. They play sport and games, they play mind games, they play act and they play down. But this isn’t real playing, this is more something which is done out or perceived necessity. When I think and talk about playing I think about stretching the imagination and creativity which is locked inside it. I’m talking about dismantling the world and re-building it as you see fit. I’m talking about embracing life and the richness it brings by adopting an attitude without boundaries or restrictions. I’m talking about observing the world with a clarity brought on only by completely relaxing the mind and being free.

If by now you’re thinking “what the hell is he going on about” then I urge you to try one thing. Find some space to be on your own with some way to listen to your favourite music, I find headphones pretty good for this! It doesn’t matter what the music is, just something that stirs some passion. Then… dance and keep dancing till you’re not thinking about dancing anymore. That is playing at it’s best people!


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