Playing Out Our Joy

Illustration by Erin McGuire

We don’t stop playing because we grow old;

we grow old because we stop playing. ~ George Bernard Shaw

A – Z Challenge – day 16

I Don’t Want To Grow Up

As we grow up, we are often told to ‘leave childish things behind’ when we enter the real world.  (As if childhood takes place in someplace other than the real world.) We’re told that we need to set aside play, silliness, games, curiosity, and our sense of the ridiculous because that’s what grown-up people do.  Grown-ups set aside their imaginative natures and turn to the serious business of being adults.

What a bunch of crap.

The reason we have so much trouble as we age is because we seem to equate adulthood with being exiled to a Mojave-like desert without food or water.  Or to a factory where our sole job is to insert the same peg in the same hole as it passes on the assembly line, day in and day out. In this line of thinking, growing up means the only respite we’re allowed to relieve the pressures of life is to go to an all you can eat buffet and stuff ourselves to the point of numbness. 

The whole notion that adult life equals a dead-end job and an overwhelming sense of responsibility, is, in a word, bollocks.

In her article, The Importance of Play for Adults, Margarita Tartakovsky, M.S., asks:

What is Play?

“Defining play is difficult because it’s a moving target,” Eberle said. [Scott Eberle, Ph.D, is vice president for play studies at The Strong and editor of the American Journal of Play]. “[It’s] a process, not a thing.” He said that it begins in anticipation and hopefully ends in poise. “In between you find surprise, pleasure, understanding — as skill and empathy — and strength of mind, body, and spirit.”

Stuart Brown called play a “state of being,” “purposeless, fun and pleasurable.” For the most part, the focus is on the actual experience, not on accomplishing a goal.  

In his 2008 Ted Talk, Brown notes that “play is vital.”  It keeps us happy and “can make us smarter at any age.”

Play is the only way the highest intelligence of humankind can unfold. ~ Joseph Chilton Pearce

Go Ahead and Play, Smarty Pants

Play is something we should enthusiastically embrace, not neglect.

If we walk out on the most innovative, creative, and curious parts of ourselves, what’s left for us?

Life is meant to be joyful.

Adult life should not be a total buzz kill. Instead, it should offer us the freedom to explore our interests, dabble, read, and discover anything and everything that interests us.

If we “follow our bliss” as Joseph Campbell advised, we will “find doors will open for [us] that wouldn’t have opened for anyone else.”


I still get wildly enthusiastic about little things. I play with leaves. I skip down the street and run against the wind. ~ Leo F. Buscaglia

Me, too, Leo.  Me, too.

© 2014  Shavawn M. Berry All rights reserved

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