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Monday, March 12, 2012

Play

One of the most enjoyable things we did on our vacation to Florida was go on a dolphin-watching tour. It was so much fun! I always knew dolphins jumped out of the water, but I didn’t realize how much they play. They leap and twist and race alongside tourist boats for fun. They say, of all the animals, dolphins are most like humans. It got me thinking about how humans play.

As children we played. When my uncles and their families visited we would have baseball games in the field behind our house (the same place Mom used to flood in the winter so we could ice skate). My dad’s brothers were a lot younger than he was. In fact, one of my uncles is only 10 years older than me. When you’re a kid and your uncles are in their twenties, they seem so cool. And they played baseball with us. Dad never played. He was the movie maker. Our play is forever memorialized on 8mm film.

It seems to me that as we age we “play” for something—a goal, a reward. When we play golf, we strive for a lowest score or when we play baseball or football, it’s the highest score we aim for. We play poker for money. But, do we ever play for no reason at all?

Have you watched how little children play? My grandchildren play dress-up. My granddaughter (4 ½) makes up stories that go along with whatever costume she wears. She insists I play the minister to marry her and her imaginary groom. Then, I get to be the clerk at the honeymoon hotel. Kids run and play with no incentives, no rewards, no keeping score. When/how did we lose that?

I love playing with the grandkids. No pressures, no keeping score. Just play for the sake of play. It’s a freedom I seldom experience. The only other thing I can compare to that freedom of play is when I begin writing a new book. The joy, the newness, the excitement of an adventure stretching out in front of me waiting for me to discover where the adventure is going and how the characters are going to get there. I’ve mentioned before that I’m more a pantser than a plotter so each story starts with a premise and I go with it. Eventually, I remind myself that this is my job, that finishing the book and sending it to an editor is the objective, that there is an incentive (selling the book to a publisher) and that brings about a reward (sales).

But, for a brief time, I can enjoy playing.

How about you? How do you play?


7 comments:

  1. Wonderful post, Diane! Absolutely! Every couple weeks we get together with close friends and play board games. It's lots of fun, even the kids play with us sometimes, but mostly the adults. And, whenever the family gets together for the holidays we end up playing Scrabble for sure and other games! Gotta make time for fun in life and have play time. It's very important :) Glad you had a nice vacation :)

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  2. Great post, Diane. I remember playing "let's pretend" years ago just like your granddaughter does now. We also played a make-believe baseball game in a vacant lot with a broom and a tennis ball or rubber ball. Boy, could we hit 'em out of the park if we ever connected with that broom! No scoring, just plain FUN! I agree, too, that beginning a new book is fun of a different kind. I feel so lucky to be a writer. Thanks for the nudge to remember to have fun whatever I do.

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  3. Good reminder, Diane. I know I don't play enough. I think that's why I have a dog. He gets me to play. It's also why I enjoy my winters here in Florida. There are lots of things going on down here that are strickly for fun.

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  4. Such a great topic, Diane. Especially since spring break is just around the corner. Lot's of opportunities for fun. Playing with a new story is definitely the greatest time to be a writer, too.

    Enjoy!

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  5. Welcome home! Hope you had a great vacation. I enjoyed this post. I, like Loralee, played "pretend" all the time, and probably to an age when most kids grew out of it, I'm embarrassed to admit. I loved re"acting" plays and TV shows.

    I do wish my family would be more "into" playing a game once in awhile. But they are too competitive. We had fun for about a half-hour over the holidays playing Tripoley.

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  6. Sounds like Florida was good for you. My family would go there every year for a month when I was growing up. We used to watch the dolphins jump and play in the water in front of our beach house. Sounds like you have to go into deep water to see them now.

    Thanks for reminding us that play for the sake of play is as important as everything else we do in life. I had such a great time writing my first book, I kept telling everyone if I didn't make a dime it was okay. I simply enjoyed the process. I think that's when we all do our best stuff.

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  7. As always, I enjoy reading the comments. I was still on the road when I posted the blog. We thoroughly enjoyed Florida and, taking full credit here :-), we brought the beautiful weather back to Michigan with us. Now, if it could just stick around.

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