“Without play, only Shit Happens. With play, Serendipity Happens,” wrote David Weinberger in The Cluetrain Manifesto.
“Work which remains permeated with the play attitude is art,” wrote philosopher John Dewey.
The difference between work and play is largely intention. Play is intended for amusement, joy, and perhaps mastery, with the main intention being to continue to play. Work is intended for results, benefit, and sustenance, with the main intention being to continue to survive or provide for yourself.
We already know how to play—to do something for its own sake, to explore, to imagine. It’s just that sometimes we go without it for so long that we may forget. No wonder there are classes to teach us how to relearn this valuable skill that was squished out of us. If you need ideas, go do improvisational comedy or try a new instrument or a sport. Rent a bicycle and go for a ride. Buy a Lego set and build. Draw a cartoon. Feed your creative practice (and well-being) by making time for play.
Even if you’re doing it for work, you may find infusing your work with the spirit of play to bring about an interesting opportunity or idea that wasn’t obvious to you at first.