The Importance of Play

There comes a point where you move beyond jet-lag, into straight up nocturnal living.

Guys – I am at that point.

As I write this, it’s 4:45 in the morning. Honestly, I have woken up at this hour more often than I’ve stayed up this late. But I figured, since I am wired and awake, and somewhat delirious, what better to do than write a new blog post?

(Did I mention I’m somewhat delirious?)

A few days ago, I got home from a trip to China. My partner and I went to Shanghai for the Buddhism and New Technology Conference where we were both presenting. Now, you can probably garner just by writing, that I am not much for the typical “conference presentation.” I don’t care to memorize lines, I don’t “do” bullet points, and PowerPoints are just not my thing.

So I decided to shake things up a bit, and make my little segment somewhat interactive. I said a few words of introduction, and then had the attendees, stand up (some of whom had literally been asleep, and had to be roused) and introduce themselves to those around them. Meet their fellow conference goers. You know, mingle. We then played a walloping good fun improv warm up game, and then a partnered game to dive a bit deeper into connection.

Here’s the twist: at least half of the audience were Chinese and A) didn’t speak English fluently, or at all, and B) come from a totally different cultural background.

A friend who stood in the back of the auditorium said “As soon as you said ‘hey everyone, let’s connect,’ I thought you were in trouble.” Because, let’s face it, some blonde, clearly-American-hippy-dippy-chic with a weird sense of humor tells you to stand up, and connect with strangers, in China, this is pretty out of the norm.

But as my friend watched, and after the first game (which is utterly ridiculous and involves a lot of movement and silly noise making), he watched the cultural barriers dissolve; he watched everyone loosen up.

And lo and behold – we were connecting!

Of course, immediately after my little 20 minutes was over, the crowd went back into “Conference Mode” and studiously resumed their seats and positions. But for that short time, we weren’t a room of separate, isolated little parts; we were cohesive. And we weren’t a room divided by race, sex, or religion; but were connected by the simple act of playing.

That’s why I love what I do so much – my work, my writing – is really just playing. It’s exploring whimsical worlds and (hopefully!) touching people’s hearts through laughter, lightness, and universal truths, best left expressed through story.

Play, to me, is one of the most connecting forces in the universe, no matter how old you are or where you’re from. We can all speak this language.

Now here’s the part where I’d love to wrap this thing up with a neat little platitude, like “People are our most important asset” or “Takes money to make money” (not sure how that second one fits in here. IT IS 5 AM.) But instead, I’ll leave you with this:

How can you invite more play into your life? What might that do for your connections with others? With yourself?

After all (and here’s that platitude): Life is too important to be taken seriously.*

*Oscar Wilde wrote this, likely not at 5(:15 now!) in the morning.

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