Labor Day: Let’s Play

Yesterday, as I turned the corner from Colorado on to 11th in Santa Monica, I saw a crowd of no less than 15 people – mostly, if not all, men – gathered around a Lamborghini. I immediately recognized one of the guys as someone I used to work with. Knowing him and seeing the demographic of his cohorts, I suspect those fellows were mostly commercial and feature film visual effects artists — likely additional former colleagues of mine.  [Hey guys!]

I paralleled my chunky out-of-fashion car a ways down the street and passed on the opportunity for a stop and chat (Thank you, Larry David; no one really enjoys stop and chats). I did, however, get a grin out of seeing, even from my fleeting vantage point, the way the men circled that Lamborghini. They had original-1977-Star-Wars-excitement in their eyes. Before I made my way on foot to start my errands, I got to hear the louder-than-anything-you-normally-hear vroooom of that vehicle race the anticlimactic length of one city block.

This was, after all, the middle of a city, on what was, after all, the middle of a work day.

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One of my most inspired moments as a supervisor, back when I used to work in an office, was going up to my young colleague and saying, “What are you doing right now?” I waited for the answer, which was pretty much irrelevant.  “Okay,” I said, “I’m going to cover your phones because I need you to go outside immediately. The sunset is spectacular.  Don’t come back for at least 12 minutes.”

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Is it irrational to try to work play and beauty in to every day – seven days a week? And if it is, why does everything have to be so god-awful rational all the time?

I’m grossly generalizing here but I suspect that most adults (for whom basic survival is covered, however temporarily*) are living radically unbalanced lives. The scales are likely tipped way too far on the side of purpose and striving. We’re neglecting our intrinsic need to just be**.

Why does shaping Play-Doh eventually fizzle if it doesn’t evolve into sculpting? Why do people who aren’t training for a hockey league stop ice skating? When’s the last time you said, “I’m so awful at ________ and I don’t care — I love doing it!

I think this is why we have pets. They just are. When we’re caring for them, it’s a little bit like just being — rationalized just being (because taking care of animals is responsible).

*We’re all, ultimately, headed for demise, right? 
**What “intrinsic need to just be”? I have no source for that, and I’m too lazy to google the concept now, but it feels true.

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For years, if I couldn’t assign some merit to a recreational activity (to potentially earn money, to be generous, to gain health benefits, to maintain relationships, to learn something, to improve, to satisfy a biological need, to broaden my horizons), I felt guilty about doing it.

No more. I’m breaking myself of this. How? It’s complicated; any answer to that question becomes an activity that gets propagated for purpose.

Certainly, it’s harder for some personality types than others. I’m reading about the topic. Because that’s what I do. Others of you haven’t given any of this a second thought because you’re out on the ocean surfing – not over-thinking the concept of play, not worrying, and sure as hell not reading blogs on a holiday weekend.

When you Experts at Being find a moment, please fill me in. What’s your racetrack where the gleam in your eyes isn’t extinguished after one short city block? Where do you find beauty for more than 12-measly-superviser-granted-minutes?

3 thoughts on “Labor Day: Let’s Play

  1. Your post greeted me right in the gut today. Thank you.

    I would like to have you as my supervisor.

    I need a sunset …

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    Thank you, my lovely. — xoR

  2. The armadillo looks so happy. I knew he’d like a field trip. :) Play, girl, play. I am grinning ear to ear reading this.

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    :) Me too. Thanks, M. — xoR

  3. Doesn’t “play” mean you take the armor off? You let your guard down and stretch your senses into a moment without much concern for most of the other “responsible” moments?

    How interesting that you took an Armadillo on a field trip…

    Like Megan said, keep playing Ruth. That’s the beauty of play: there’s very few rules. And there’s thousands of ways to do it. Do not worry about playing correctly. Just play.

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    Yes, taking one’s armor off is a lot to do with it! And “stretching” the “senses”; being in the moment; turning the volume down on the judging tapes. Thanks for the input, Ben. & for reading.

    As for Armadillo’s field trip, all your wife’s idea. :)

    Today I played in traffic looking at leaves.

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