The NPR article “Play Doesn’t End With Childhood: Adults Need Recess Too” reports, “[P]laytime doesn’t end when we grow up. Adults need recess too.”
Why? To find out, they asked our friend Dr. Stuart Brown, who responded, “Play is something done for its own sake…It’s voluntary, it’s pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome.”
In this Play Project update, week three, we see that Michelle Ortega listened to an audio narration of a French children’s book to unwind after a long day. Her caption suggests she accomplished much of what Dr. Brown mentioned with this voluntary, pleasurable activity that took her out of time for a few minutes.
They say one reason grown-ups play is to “maintain our social well-being,” whether through gathering to play board games, joining an adult soccer league, or trying an Escape Room. “Playing is how we connect.” They mention the closeness a couple can gain when they add play to their relationship.
Another reason we play, the article says, “is to stay sharp.” Playing games like Scrabble that engage the mind can lower our risk of developing Alzheimer’s. “A number of studies suggest that playing games or doing puzzles helps maintain memory and thinking skills.”
Michelle Ortega has been squeezing play into every day this month. She shared with us this photo of the last standing gas lamp in New York, near e. e. cummings’ apartment.
And she played Ms Pacman, which was a big source of play in my teen years.
Bethany took a break to sip tea and peruse responses to a recent Tweetspeak Poetry prompt (puppies+dreams!).
Vicki Addesso pulled out crayons to distract herself, to find joy. She awakened creativity and play, documenting the day with a poem, which ends:
Tonight I opened a box of crayons
and simply filled the blank page,
Donna Falcone has been making art, playing with paint:
Meanwhile, Marilyn Yocum decided to do her nails while watching Downton Abbey, reminding us that play can be simple (and indulgent).
A friend of mine gave me a box of gluten-free cookie mix and a container of icing to use during the Play Project month—cookies just for me. So last night I made them. And ate them.
In the NPR article, Dr. Brown said, “What you begin to see when there’s major play deprivation in an otherwise competent adult is that they’re not much fun to be around…You begin to see that the perseverance and joy in work is lessened and that life is much more laborious.”
Right. Without play, we get bored and boring.
So, to avoid play deprivation, we get creative. We get out. We do things, see things. For example, Marilyn headed to her local library to view an exhibit of photos. She writes:
There are gems to be had, often right under our noses.
AN EXHIBIT of PHOTOS taken by Otto Frank, father of Anne Frank, might not seem like much of a Play Project outing. Perhaps it’s more of an artist’s date. I’m not exactly sure of the overlap between those two, but a trip to any exhibit where my everyday thoughts are temporarily suspended feels like play to me. It may fit into the category of spectator play or even storytelling (because photos tell a story).
When you play, you decide how many sprinkles to shake on the cookie. You decide whether to visit the art exhibit or where to walk in SoHo. You decide where to go and what to do.
We’ve got one week left in the January 2016 Play Project. Life needn’t be laborious—let’s avoid being dulled by a stream of duties and obligations.
Dream up seven more ideas, one for each day in the week ahead—things you want to do.
Then tell us (in the comments below) how you’ll play in the days that remain.
- The Play Project: A Month of Fun for Anyone (especially writers and other creatives) (introductory and main page, complete with downloadable worksheets)
- #PlayProject Jan 2016 – Week One Update
- #PlayProject Jan 2016 – Week Two Update
- Top 6 Curiosity Discoveries – December 2015, Planning for Play (each month I document curiosity discoveries, and December offered a play theme, as I was immersed in planning for January)
- #31 Play a Playful Year (podcast)