I walk past an empty, gray school yard. Suddenly a door opens and children burst into the quiet with laughter, yelling, and running. They seem to know exactly what to do and where to go. Without hesitation they form pairs and groups of three to five. The courtyard comes alive with play.
No one argues that play isn’t a necessary and healthy part of children’s everyday life. But, what about adults? Are we entitled to play? Most of us have the work thing down. Early on, we are taught that we have to work for a living and take care of others. When we are ailing, we are prescribed medicines, proper nutrition, and rest. In astrology, the fifth house precedes the sixth house of work and health suggesting that our total health is compromised when we overlook the benefits of fifth-house entitlements—play, self expression, and recreation.
Self Expression through Play
Some consider play trivial and frivolous compared to the work we must do to feed, clothe, and house ourselves and our families. However, play feeds the spirit—the animating force within! “Play is neither trivial nor unimportant, says astrologer Robert Hand. “It is in fact what being is.”
The ultimate form of life is not our bodies, but our being. Being is not existing passively. Being is a dynamic expression of the Creative Universal Intelligence that lives and moves and has its being through us. Whether we are holding a tennis racket, whirling on the dance floor, wielding a paintbrush or pen, dreaming up a new recipe, or toying with an idea in our mind’s eye, we are engaging the Divine Substance—the mind stuff of the Universe—play! Play is next to godliness because it provides connection with true substance—that from which all blessings flow: manna, and the formless universe. Connection without substance is addiction which is why substance abuse, including television and food, eventually strangles or interferes with the creative process.
Play, Work, and Fun
Play promotes the well-being that supports the work we do, so that we might play, so that we might be and express our divine nature. I believe we can have it all, including work infused with play. The primary characteristics of children absorbed in play are passion and focus. Their fulfillment comes through activity for activity’s sake, rather than what they will get out of in. “The aversion to work may be the failure to incorporate the value of play,” counsels Inez Singletary, Lunations editor. When working with adults who seek more fulfilling work, I ask them what they loved to play when they were children. The answer often provides clues to what they might enjoy doing as adults. Girls who played with dolls sometimes gravitate toward fields that involve a social network. A 40-year old man brightens when recalling he loved playing basketball and started looking for work (including volunteer work) that involved competition, fun, teamwork, and physical movement. We are blessed if we have work about which we are passionate. We are a blessing when we put passion and play in our work.
We were born with natural ability and talent which may or may not be valued because developing them is too much like play. We receive value when we express our talents, that is, make use of and thereby increase our inheritance—the gift of life!
Genuine Play May be Serious,
or Fun, but Always Beautiful!
I admit that my play often involves serious pursuits such as the art and science of astrology. Robert Hand explains, “ . . . at the root, science is the activity of people who enjoy asking questions about the universe . . .Science and astrology both require work, but the work only serves the ultimate activity, which is play.” If self-knowledge is essential to life, then play is essential to self knowledge. As we play, we glimpse ourselves being ourselves and thereby recreate ourselves truly. To paraphrase Heraclitus, we are most nearly ourselves when we achieve the seriousness of a child at play.