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  • Writer's pictureD. Randall Faro

Playing for Life

Nicholas Cole wrote the following in a recent online article titled 20 Things Most People Learn Too Late In Life – “When was the last time you played in the rain? When was the last time you sat on a sidewalk and looked closely at the cracks, the rocks, the dirt, the one weed growing between the concrete and the grass nearby. Do that again. You will feel so connected to the playfulness of life.”

The playfulness of life. It seems to escape a lot of folks.

When I used to do premarital counseling, I would use a devise with young couples called The Mooney Problem Checklist. The list is one hundred and eighty potential problems dealing with health, relationships, morals and religion, economic security, and occupational and recreational pursuits. For our purposes, the individuals were instructed to mark something as a problem if it described an area of life for which they felt a significant degree of need for change. This forum is not the place to discuss the value of the device and interpretation of their answers. I note it because in a high percentage of cases either one or both of the pair would check: taking life too seriously. I came to expect it.

The origin of the proverb, "all work and no play makes Jack a dull boy," is unclear, but it is found in James Howell's 1659 book, Proverbs. Apparently three and a half centuries ago too many people also took life too seriously.

To be sure, hard work and accomplishing tasks with determination is admirable. Even necessary. But when that becomes the whole of life to the exclusion of playfulness, danger is afoot. Danger which often results in damaged mental health and strained personal relationships. That being the case, my encouragement is to play . . . to play on purpose for the good of yourself and your loved ones.

I am thinking of play as sheer joy-filled, aimless activity without a goal or purpose. Its value derives from its contribution to a balanced life. The consequences of an existence characterized by all work and duties and responsibilities can lead to a sense of joylessness that sucks the life right out of one. What is often not recognized is that play energizes, rejuvenates, and invigorates one to tackle the work and family areas of life with renewed zeal.

So go play. Basketball. Fishing. Museum hopping. Surfing. Chess. Collecting something. Birdwatching. Beachcombing. Flying kites. Dog shows. Riding roller coasters. You pick. It will not only make your day . . . it could make your life.

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