Caution: Adults at Play

ALL WORK AND NO PLAY MAKE JACK A DULL BOY; ALL PLAY AND NO WORK MAKE JACK A MERE TOY. This proverb  was already a familiar one when it appeared in print in 1659 -the first part that is. Author Maria Edgeworth wrote the second part in 1825. Obviously the challenge of  balancing work and play isn’t a new one. It’s an ever-present theme in literature and music and film and television. Why is it so hard for adults to kick back and play a bit with all the reminders?

In retirement I am becoming more proficient at play. One might think that is a no-brainer but not if the definition of play is considered. According to Brown and Vaughan in a book not to be found in our library circuit – Play: How It Shapes the Brain Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul- any activity one considers playful should be (1) voluntary (2) pleasurable and (3) fully engaging. During legitimate play time takes a backseat since the process is more important than the outcome.

Play should come with the warning: STOP IMMEDIATELY IF THIS ACTIVITY BECOMES MANDATORY WITH A DEADLINE. And it’s all relative. column writing has a deadline b ut it is a game for me still in a multitude of ways. I love learning a poker game from my brother-in-law but teaching me is a drive-to-drink source of great stress for him. Golf can’t be ‘real’ play for my sis if she won’t let me accompany her until I get good at it! Fishing is great play for my brother because it doesn’t really matter to him if he catches anything. I get that and it is play for me if I don’t have to bait the hook. Sis-in-law loves to paint walls – she is fast and efficient and clever with color schemes and it’s all a headache for me. Son loves woodwork; all that measuring twice and cutting once with noisy power tools keeps the fun at bay for me. Daughter-in-law is so creative in her ‘work’  designing custom nails it seems like play perhaps for her; it is oh so tedious for those not detail oriented.

I would add the component of laughter to the definition of fun. Wii games with grandchildren qualify because grandmas are so bad at playing them as does Wii bowling wth adults who aren’t concentrating on the scores. As grown ups we should model five-  year-olds; they are imaginative and spontaneous and not too worried yet about judgment from others. Being part of their fun is the greatest joy.

Originally written for my Close to Home column in The Prospect-News.

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About gleefulee

Retired after 33 years of teaching English and French (one year in private school in Memphis, TN and the rest in public school in Doniphan, MO. Enjoying new adventures - all those things I put off for lack of time, energy, now I can try them! Pottery, writing, traveling, camping, kayaking, dancing, listening to some of the best live music ever, and making passionate, lively new friendships. All christened with an appreciation for great red wine! Created and operated KC's on the Current, then sold it and managed it for new owners. Now totally retired and looking for my summers to be full of fun as well! Born and raised in St. Louis, MO near The Hill. Though a transplant to Southeast Missouri, still very much a city gal at the core with a deep love of the natural resources in these Ozark foothills. Currently I am a content contributor for Poplar Bluff Living Magazine and a columnist for our local weekly The Prospect News. My rescue Siamese helps with most of the proofreading; he has a great ear. I relish the solitude easily had in the Mark Twain Forest but thoroughly enjoy lively outings for music, wine, conversation close to home or in my beloved hometown. Technology is my greatest challenge but so worth the shared connections. There may be a need for solitude but there is little loneliness.
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