I was at a friend’s place when her pet dog brought his rubber toy to me expectantly. When I grabbed the toy, Rosco (the dog) would clamp on to the toy and try with all his might to pull it away. Then when he got it away, he would bring it back to me expecting to me to repeat the process over and over again.
Play is something that all higher-mammals do. It’s a key part of their growth process as they develop the skills for real life. As innocent as Rosco’s play might appear, he’s actually training his ability to drag his prey down and tear it apart.
Leave it to human beings however to take play to a whole new level. From organized sports to gaming and gambling, play can now be done for it’s own sake with no regard to the kinds of skills it might or might not develop for becoming an adult. Witness the parent who screams at the referee or coach or player, and you realize how much perspective has been lost.
What if play is not only fun, but serious? What if playing actually allows us to imagine, create, explore for the purpose of being a citizen of the world? Edison and Einstein played, but don’t mistake their exploration for the kind of kids stuff promoted these days. It’s a serious kind of play requiring thought, effort, and reflection.
Too often we play at being adventurers or play at being scientists. When do we actually be adventurers and scientists?