Work hard, play.. at all?
I remember the motto “work hard, play hard” from university days, and later it was a well-known anthem among those starting and establishing careers. During work hours you put in the grit required, and during leisure hours you played hard at sport or partying. I have seen this in several generations since, though with one twist- play seems to have become being super-competitive, as in cycling and engaging in other sport for the reason of winning (sounds a lot like work to me!), or it has become about checking out by means of gaming or recreational drugs. What has happened to just playing? Like a young child does?
As a working mom I can attest to a lack of play time, and when there is a free moment it is often filled with a mental to-do list, snapping photos of the kids or pets at play, or a lack of knowing how to play. The world economy is down, expectations for children are up, stress levels are high, and there’s no time to waste. Or if you’re a student or in your first job, there is also an emphasis on working crazy hours to show you are serious about your future. There’s a lot of fear and uncertainty in the world -the last few years especially- so overworking is one way we feel we can gain some control. Then we teeter toward the other extreme of overplaying (not sure that’s a word) with risky, impulsive options like extreme sport, substances, devices, and food. Or play just doesn’t feature, more like work and pass out, then repeat!
If you think of how you define play, is it one of the many options I have mentioned here? Or are you one of those rare adults who understands the true spirit of playing as hard as you work; as in- be fully present when you are in either mode, take stock across a week not daily (as to whether you had a balance between the two), and choose something that is truly playing instead of just being a numbing or a break from the usual work mode. What makes you smile, inside?