Friday, January 8, 2010

Just playing

We watched a National Geographic presentation about arctic wolves the other day.  There were the mother and father and three yearlings, two males and a female.  They travel around to hunt together.  But the young female was a wanderer and tended to lack the unity and pack sense of the others.

The narrator said she spent too much time "playing."  That got my attention.  How do we know when a wolf teenager is playing?  Right after the comment, she waded into a pool (probably qu even in the arctic summer) and took a good-sized chunk of ice in her teeth.  She carried the chunk with her for a short while and then dropped it.

Sometimes you run into statements that playing is important for staying young.  Children usually have many ways to play.  How do you play?  What do you do to play?  Suppose a person has aged or serioused or soured or focused on business too much for long.  How can they regain the ability to play?

Sometimes, the child playing seems to have the mind turned off.  The fingers and the eyes may be manipulating or gauging but it doesn't seem that there is any agenda to be followed.  But sometimes the bossy kid knows exactly what is to be done and informs other playmates of their duties and responsibilities in an imperious and confident manner.  We say that is only play because the boss is not really in charge, lacks authority or credentials to command obedience.  So, playing may involve heavy use of the imagination.

I imagine I am an angel.  Angels have wings so I need wings or a substitute.  I know they aren't really wings but they help me in my play.  With a pair of coathangers dangling down my back from my collar, I am more the angel I want to be.

Sensations just for their sake, whether it is a chunk of ice in the teeth or doodling or chasing a ball of yarn.  Mental pictures just for their own sake, whether it is being a princess or a cowboy or an astronaut. Exploring possibilities just to see where they lead and what might happen.  Heck, I guess I play every day!

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