The Power of Play
When I was little, my family lived in this house that had great back windows. These windows opened up to our outdoor porch; they had no screens (that I can remember) and had these heavy, dark metal latches with handles that swung up and down to lock the windows. My sister and I used to climb out of the windows, pretending to be trapped in a castle, making our escape.
Now that my nephew is old enough to play, we spend a lot of time where he bosses me around; I help him build a train out of chairs, bury plastic animals in sand, or we dress up with whatever he has on hand.
I tried to remember the last time that I played. Most of my adult play is spent at a computer, writing stories. Sometimes I’ll listen to an interactive app while I workout. I get really intense about board games. But opportunities for playfulness sometimes seem few and far between.
I think escape is more common than play. People are lonelier than ever. We tune out. We drink too much. We binge watch. We shut down. We buy things obsessively. We eat our feelings. Play is something we can get lost in, but not lose ourselves. It’s a way to depressurize our lives without checking out of it.
Maybe what we need is a play revolution. Play provides us an outlet to relieve stress, deepen our connection with others, spur creativity, explore dormant parts of ourselves. What’s an activity that you love, but haven’t done in a long time? What is something that, if your 10-year-old self saw you today, would be heartbroken that you’ve abandoned? Where in your life can you make space to play? Open up that latch, crawl out of that window, and make a break for it. Go play. Just be home before the street lights come on.