PLAY: The True Essence Of Being

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The present. Right here. Right now. The moment when you realized that everything will be ok. That all you have is right here. Right now. As a society we work, eat, sleep, complain, repeat. Play has become a luxury for some and an escape for most. We daydream of childhood play, riding bicycles with a baseball card in the spoke, playing a game of soccer at recess. Then, it is just life still engulfing, engaging, and liberating, but always seems to be peripheral to that which is “normal life”. What is “normal” anyway? We have come to a point where play is sometimes not an option, But what if everyday was play? Even work. What is it to love what you do? If you love what you do, then is work considered play? Play is so subjective, it is truly the essence of life in which we have lost our way. LIFE IS PLAY.

Looking into the ontology of play, play has been deeply embedded in all cultural, for all time. It has essentially become a lost catalyst to an enlightened state, a state of now, a state of worry-free being. Fink states that “it is also seen as a means of rejuvenating one’s inner vitality, a return to the morning freshness of life at its origin, to the source of one’s creative power.” It is often said that artists create in a state of “no-mind”. This is a state where the mind is only focused on the now, the present. In this state you are not thinking about the end product, just living in the moment, going with the flow. Play allows one to become their own artist, their own creator, for their own life.

I believe play is exclusive, it is unlike any other human experience, and is also seen as a way to build community and bring people of various backgrounds together. It provides us with a structured way of releasing all negative emotion and thought. I believe it can be vehicle for a higher consciousness, when acted out in its true form. But what is play in its true form? Does play have specific ideal or form? Play is not defined by the action in which it is acted out, but by the feelings one gets during the act of play. As a child we play with ourselves or others, making up rules as we go, setting boundaries, creating order so that we may play in harmony with one another. We are happy, free and hold no judgement. Or at least that is the goal. Then as we grow older it becomes less free, brings less joy, more stress, and our conditioned lives bring about judgement and scorn. Play takes up less of our life and an industrialized culture takes over.

Modern athletes have taken play and successfully intertwined it into their everyday life, their being. I would consider athletes artists in their own right. Creating beautiful movement with each step. Tell me you have never watched the Olympics and sat there in awe at their fluidity of movement. If we asked professional athletes why they started in their particular sport, what would they say? Their answer, most likely, would be that they loved the sport, the competition, and being part of a team. As we look at the world of professional sports it seems to be clouded with greed, money, and this incessant drive to win at all costs. For most athletes, I believe, there is still a definite love for the game, but with a veil of expectation. These expectations come from the coaches, parents, and fans. This expectation to live up to their potential and earn their keep, can take away from freeing effect of play. Esposito stated:

to the player, the game, if properly constructed, presents not so much a challenge – in the usual sense of the word – as an opportunity to experience possibility. Games, in other words, are contrived situations, the purpose of which is to heighten and bring focus the interplay between possibility and actuality. Each form of play, if my view is correct, should contain within it a moment when possibility can be acutely felt by the player.”

This feeling that anything is possible is an important part of play and an important part of being. Those few moments where the game is tied or in the last leg of a race are when the possibilities may be transformed into actuality. As an industrialized economy we must soon realize that play is a crucial part of being. Without play we may loose our sense of self and our drive to create, learn, and explore.

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