I could write and create out of drudgery. I could write out of duty, out of a necessity to prove something to myself or others, or out of discipline. I could write grudgingly or timidly, self-consciously and anxiously- and I hope that I write in all of these ways and a multitude of others, each one a mood, each a turning outwards of the inner, each one a curiosity, a quality, every part and mood deserving and interesting as I play with it. Because this is who I am: I play. My mind plays and my words play. I play, with children and plants and living and words and in that play I am deadly serious.
One night when I was a child I began to cry because I did not want to grow up. The horror of becoming a grown up had suddenly and inconveniently impressed itself upon me. I did not want to grow up because grown ups have no fun. My father came to comfort me and convince me to go to sleep. He suggested that grown ups have their own activities that are fun, like driving. In a gale of tears, I wailed, “But they can’t play.”
What I suddenly understood but couldn’t convey was not that children play but that they play and believe. When, in the play yard, the evil troll steals the magic ring, real tears are shed. Or a potion has been prepared that will turn anyone into a lizard: start looking for scales. And if they don’t appear, no matter, because the idea itself is too delicious. And so all in the game become lizards. Or when you are a child, and you run, you really run- towards what, away from what, it doesn’t matter- everything in you is running.
Adult life, in my estimation, did not measure up. Sure, my dad played with us, but he did he believe? I was not convinced.
Fortunately for me- for this tale does have a happy ending- I have discovered that I still play, and that now I believe in a different magic, the magic that is inherent in the world, named drala by Tibetan Buddhism via Chogyam Trongpa. Not only that, I am so lucky as to share both this perception and the ability to play with the love of my life. And, it turns out that playing music also has the same quality. Every week as I play with my band we become absorbed in the music, a simultaneous seriousness of purpose and play, the true double nature of play.
My sweetheart playfully pinches me at times, which I do not always love, a game inherited from Grandma Sophie whose playful gestures stayed with her well into her elder years. The message is clear: I love you, don’t take yourself too seriously, and play with me. Always.