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.


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.”


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.


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 …

    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.


    :) 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.

    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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