I am, according to my mother, "only" eighteen. And yet eighteen years of life have given me some perspective on play; perhaps some perspective that adults have lost as they become more career-oriented. At the age of eighteen, I don't yet HAVE a career to pull me away from play.
And play I do. I was glad to hear that reading is a form of play--for me, it has been the primary way of playing. I read any book that piques my interest, any book that makes me laugh or think or lose myself in its pages. The fun--that's the only word for it, fun--that I have reading makes me want to share the experience with all the people I love. That's why I like to read to my nieces and nephews. Not only is just being with them and playing with them a wonderful way to play, but by reading to them I share my love of books and have double the fun: Fun hanging out with kids and fun reading!
There are other ways I play, too. I like to swing on the swings at the local parks. I like to bike ride and do crossword puzzles and write long letters to, among others, one of my favorite radio programs (ahem). And, though it is a bit embarrassing to admit, I like to play with my niece and her doll house. She and I set up the furniture, and then we rearrange it again and again. We also play "house" together (she is always the mommy) and sometimes just romp around the house, simply playing.
I'll be starting college soon. I'll be in a serious-sounding program: Macaulay Honors College at CUNY. But no matter how intimidating the actual curriculum may be, I know I will have fun. Because surrounding myself in play has made me realize that people who don't ever play are embittered and cynical. My grandmother, who lives with me, is often sour or sad. She has had a hard life, and recently lost her beloved husband. She can seem perpetually bitter. However, when her great-grandchildren come to visit, her face lights up and she is happy; happy because when they come to visit she gets to play. She gets to hear their little voices and watch them invent spontaneously games and activities. Play energizes my grandmother and gives her chance to feel young at heart again.
By immersing myself in play, I have changed the way I am approaching college, and approaching life as a whole. L. Frank Baum dedicated his books to the young and the young at heart. I want to be young at heart. And to be young at heart, I believe, I must do what the young in years do. I must play.
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