The Play’s the Thing

Why do we choose to be in a relationship? There are lots of answers this question, of course. Like passion, affection, the desire to be a parent and, yes, insecurity. But there’s something else that I want to focus on in this post.

Play.

Let’s get really simple here.

As we go through life, we have good feelings, we have bad feelings, and we have feelings that are somewhere in the middle (“Hmm, I don’t know how I feel about this.”).

What do we want out of our relationship? We want to feel good, not bad.

So what kind of good feelings can we have?

We can have positive feelings about the other person; the other person can generate positive feelings about ourself; and we can have positive feelings about the two of us. About the connection.

Good vibrations, yum!

And then there is the spirit of play. It’s what kids do.

It’s what cats and dogs do.

It’s what grown-ups do, too.

If they can get out of their own way.

Here’s a general principle, without the asterisks: Relationships thrive to the extent that they’re inhabited by the spirit of play.

Are you thinking, ‘But life is serious business! Isn’t it childish to focus on play?’

No. Playing is about as adult, as genuinely adult, as you can get.

If you understand ‘adult’  to mean the capacity to consciously make the most of our all-too-short lives.

Play is a choice. We can bring play into the everyday business of life. We can even bring play into all the hardest places, including conflict resolution.

If we stay conscious enough. If we choose to.

There are ways to make play happen, and ways to make sure it won’t. I won’t get into them here. Suffice it for now that if you make play your meditation—if you make it what you return to regularly—it will become a habit, the sort of habit that brings you a life with a lot more joy than pain.

And that’s the goal, isn’t it? John Lennon: “In school, they asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up. I said, ‘Happy.’ They told me I didn’t understand the assignment. I told them they didn’t understand life.”

How much play do you have in your relationship? How much play can you co-create?

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