It is striking how many times at book signings and casual chats thereafter that I hear this refrain in varied tones: "I just lost my job. I need to re-think my life and find my way." The faces poke at my heart. I am in no way diminishing this fear and loss of self-confidence. But, I do want to look at a very human antidote to this anxiety.
We are long on work and short on play. Let's turn our attention from the serious issue of employment, and the grave reality of unemployment for too many, and rediscover the universal human need for play. Look at the word "re/creation." We do, indeed, revive and replenish our spirits when we allow ourselves to have a good time. Leisure enlivens imagination. Relaxation stokes creativity. Play lightens our beings as it refreshes our minds.
This past week I gathered with a group of children and adults for two hours of philosophy, art, and poetry. It was great fun, and towards the end I invited everyone to go outside and play - it was a gorgeous early spring day. The doors opened and 50 people ran and laughed with arms extended high or hands held, some heads thrown back and other backs rolling down the hill. Cries of "not it!" signaled the start of a game of tag. Tall and short philosophers crouched and nuzzled up to crocus and daffodils, climbed on rocks and up trees, watched a woodpecker at work and listened as honking geese flew overhead. No instructions were needed; no goals whatsoever. JUST PLAY.