To begin, I want to relate a story about something I saw back in 1985 which made me realise the natural world is not a cruel and impersonal force which refines through creating a hostile environment where only the strong survive.
I live in a city, and at the time lived in a high-rise building. I was working then in the chemistry department of a large hospital, which was only a short bus ride away.
While waiting for the bus one fall day I happened to notice some small birds flying around the front of my building. Now there was nothing unusual about these small birds except for what they were up to. Because of the wind that day there was strong column of air being generated in one corner of the high-rise where the "flying buttress" intersected the main part of the structure
I watched in amazement as these birds each took their turn at swooping into the column of air near the ground, then spread their wings, and let the vertical updraught carry them about 8 or 10 stories. They would then bank like a airplane out of the column, dive for the ground and repeat the process. There was no other purpose for this action than for play!
The perspective I have gained on playing is that it serves both the purpose of allowing a developing child or animal to "practice", as it were relating to the real world without creating damaging anxiety and fear, and allows the mind, in a non-competitive, off-line sense, to create new possibilities. Without this play time, humans would never achieve the heights they have.
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