My granddaughters, ages four and six are a pair of sprites. The four year old, in particular, celebrates her life with glee and exuberance, richly perceptive of the world around her. Spontaneously, she at times puts on a funny and engaging performance; she is keen and alive with life-discovering excitement. Creating herself and understanding the world by her play in social interactions— she is delightful to be with!
Sitting at home after a visit with these children, I started to wonder about play. What is it? So, for the past few weeks I’ve been reading everything time allotted on play. I find that play takes me outside of time, a free imagination suspending time.
Play is the way to learn, and for that matter, to do therapy. Some educators see that when the imaginative world of play is not alive in learning, one is most likely to follow what other people think, and not learn to think independently and creatively.
Psychoanalytic therapy involves play in the patient’s free play of associations which opens up lost and closed pathways within the self, and the therapist’s thinking is a free play of associations and reflection and the therapeutic relationship is special kind of play between therapist and patient. Play loosens the tightness of the ordered world and creates possibilities.
In small and big ways play fosters the development of culture. Huizinga, a 20th century historian and cultural theorist, suggested that culture is itself play.
The animal world as well as pre-human aspects of being human know play as a release from the realities of life and death into the sheer joy of play. Lest we forget, play is also just imaginative, spontaneous excitement. In such play, identity is suspended, and the living being sets itself free.
I am going to write a few more blog entries continuing to keep in play the question, “What is play