The Importance of Play

It can be easy to forget the importance of play as an adult, but taking time to do something you find enjoyable is essential for your well-being.


| May 2015



Kids playing

Children play frequently, finding freedom in exploring the world. Even as adults, we must recognize the importance of play in our lives and remember to enjoy the unexpected.

Photo by Fotolia/godfer

Mary Anne Radmacher offers inspirations to help you live large from the heart in Lean Forward Into Your Life (Conari Press, 2014), from living with intention and listening attentively to taking time for yourself and remembering to play with abandon. Essays and anecdotes are followed by suggestions for ways to incorporate leaning forward into your life, one small step at a time. The following excerpt is from “Play With Abandon.”

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live boldly. laugh loudly. love truly.
play as often as you can.
work as smart as you are able.
share your heart as deeply as you can reach.
as you awaken
may your dreams
greet you by name and
may you answer, “yes.”
as you walk
may all your angels
gather at your shoulders and
may you confidently know
they stand with you.
as you rest
may all your endeavors
know contentment and peace.

My two finest teachers in regard to play have been a stout labrador, who is four, and a fiery redhead who is now eight. These two have conspired to invite, “let’s play together” to spring strongly and easily to my lips. I’ve come to understand that really means the same thing as, “I love you.” Those three words come forward—open doors to a stronghold, a winter-wilderness fortress. They come forward saying, “I offer you my own best strength, in spending playful time with you, in loving you I offer you the same comforts, security, abilities, and opportunities which I offer myself. My doors are swung wide for you and here is the key. Come to my castle never as a prisoner or emissary but as a reigning monarch of your own wild kingdom. And only and ever the title you hold within my walls is “treasured friend.””

What I appreciate about my red-headed friend, Taylina, and my dog, Judah, is their loyalty partnered with their truth-telling. Both of them let me know in their own gentle ways when I am being less than myself, when I am not feeling well…and they stay by me, nonetheless. They don’t really need me, but they want me. That’s the finest quality of presence. A function of choice, not of obligation or requirement. Funny, reflective, compassionate, attentive. Never stingy with their affection. Smart enough to get me to do what they want me to do and make it seem like my idea.

There are many things that Judah teaches me that Taylina can’t—because his ears are longer, like velvet, and he has four legs instead of two. These are simply anatomical advantages. However, Taylina can wield a paintbrush in a way Judah can only envy. Her creativity and ingenuity inspire me all the time. And Taylina dances in ways that leave both Judah and me breathless.