In May of 2005, when I was 57 years old, I was inspired to set up a play group for 6 women ranging from age 29 to 67. We have met once a month since that time, taking turns as hostess. Each hostess has to think of an activity that is "out of the box." We have only two rules, but they are important ones. We call them "play rules," double meaning intended. The first rule is that no personal issues are to be brought up for discussion or advice in any play group. Secondly, there is a difference between play and entertainment or work. Concerts, movies, plays, or anything that requires one to mainly listen or watch, is not considered play. And no matter how much fun they might be, work projects are not appropriate either. Everything we do has to be purposeless, participatory and open for free exploration on an individual as well as a group basis.
In the four years of our existence we have expanded our group to 8 members and involved ourselves in such activities as children's games--hop-scotch, clapping/circle games, hide-and-seek; an Easter egg hunt in the middle of summer; making a stuffed bear out of old sweater sleeves to bring to our gatherings (these bears have their own personalities, speech patterns and irritabilities). We have decorated cookies, made mud pies, done stand-up comedy, acted out a play written by one of the members, had a Mad Hatter's tea party, removed our socks and made them into hand puppets, blown huge bubbles and chased them around the park, and the list goes on and on...
In the first year members tended to prioritize other obligations as being more important than play group and we had quite a few absences. However, once the absentees realized how much fun they had missed, everyone made our monthly date the priority. It is a rare occasion now when someone is absent.
What we have discovered over the years is not only that adult play has the side-effect of being personally therapeutic, but that it is a revolutionary energy in and of itself. If you send a spirit of playfulness out into the world you tend to get playfulness and laughter back. What if, through more adult play, we could change the world from a place of many conflicts to a place of fun?
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