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All the Time
A colleague shared a fantastic "Scientific American" article with a number of us earlier today, "The Serious Need for Play."
Coincidentally, a different friend and I were talking first thing this morning about how she wished her daughter would have some fun. "She's always reading. It's too much....I used to read under my covers with a flashlight and my mother said that that's why my daughter's that way, but I wish she were interested in having fun, too."
"Maybe that *is* fun to your daughter -- reading all the time," I responded.
And then I read the article, which talked of the importance of unstructured play -- how it builds the imagination, negotiation skills, the ability to problem-solve....
Recently, I was writing for school about how I get a thrill from doing experiments at work. Others might call it risk-taking; it's not the risk that thrills me, but rather the sense of experimentation.
Did I get that way from going to my first year of nursery school at a Montessori school? Did I become experimental because my friends all liked to pretend with me when we were very young? Did playing with Lego by myself, in the corner of my mother's Weight Watchers meetings, make a difference? How about running around outside whether on foot or by bike, often improvising my destination?
During our most recent class in Time & Learning, our professor asked, "What makes you feel in or out of synchronicity with others? And when you feel out of synchronicity, what do you do to achieve or restore it?
"I try to make people laugh, which always disarms everything," I responded. It wasn't till I gave that answer that I realized that laughter is so valuable to me at work as a creativity agent that if no one around me is particularly funny, I try to take up the slack, to ensure that I feel my most open, and so my most creative.
"So you're saying that the element of surprise, which laughter brings, can bring synchronicity?" our professor asked.
"I think so."
Reading the "Scientific American" article, I was wishing, also, that it had talked about being playful at older ages, and explicitly about laughter. As a reader, I could infer that when two kids are playing, if they're having fun, probably there is at least some laughter.
Laughter can be a deeply pleasant surprise, and a pleasant surprise opens people's minds. If I can no longer do spontaneous fort-building, or other unplanned, fun activities with the people with whom I spend my workdays, then I can try to make all of us laugh in any case.