Let it be. Play isn’t ever over. Play is open, sometimes tangled, play is felt and full to overflowing. Activity comes parcelled up. Play is lying on your back to watch the clouds, spinning till you’re dizzy, falling over and doing it all again. Play is love, is wild, ferocious, hiding, hidden, screaming, play is quietly in your thinking, all day long. Activity has a timetable or a plan. Play happens when it happens, where it happens, how and why it happens. Play is because it’s raining or because of more, because of thunderstorms, or because you’ve found a snail. Play leads to more play, leads to more play, and that is all enough, is good enough. All you need is play. Play for play’s sake makes us ‘us’. Activity is an exercise or making something someone’s given you or guided you to do, and you receive, you do, you make of that what good you can, you move along. It does, it’s of the meantime, but this is not enough. Play is all you need. Play is underneath. Play is unguided. It isn’t given but it’s taken. Play is full, is overflowing, play is felt and sometimes tangled, play is open, play is all, an over and an over, and an over and an over, play isn’t ever over. Let it be, this play for play’s sake.
Let this be a clarion call. The co-ercion or the manufactured is a poor facsimile for the spontaneity of a natural absorption. The former is shortcut after shortcut, encompassing a culture of speed and ‘product’, of ‘levelling up’ and optics over substance; the latter is of the long game, where ‘game’ itself aligns here with ‘spirited’ and is not constricted by the strangulation of ‘rules’. If there is a fluctuating spectrum along which play resides and slides, moment to moment, then at all times the natural spontaneity must out-rank the nefarious other . . . summer-struck, one young child hangs for seconds from the bars, her weight pulling at her arm muscles, alone, not so long after an adult ‘helped’ another child of similar age, taking all his weight there, as he barely touched the metal, bodily unquestioning, in the rapid prospect of the end of the obstacle; a child sits, then lies, on a picnic table, watches upwards for a short while, where, some short time before, two adults sat on the bench, with a grandchild, maybe, and one adult said to the other as he left, ‘Make sure you keep an eye on her’, and the skywatcher sits up, dangles her legs, the reflection inherent in her action suggesting she’s contemplating how to jump, and so she does; one boy climbs a tree, and no-one’s there to say don’t go any higher, and he goes only as high as he knows is high enough. So it all is in play where play comes first: then there are gradations down through the colours to the greys and to the pale, close and closer to devoid and to the void. Beyond the pale is wasteland. It isn’t a place of possibilities. It isn’t a ‘place’ at all. It is unthoughtful.
Play has its myriad affects, and words are insufficient. Yet, and yet, here we are, attempting to describe the colour of the wind. Play affects not just the playing. At the fragmentary moment that the observer becomes the observed, therein lies an utter, ineffable grace, a Yugen tracing in the connective comprehension of the nature of one another’s natures. A very young child, unknown, still unstable in her walking, is trailed around a park by an older sibling, maybe, and they do their circuits, mostly according to the want and will of the smallest, who stops to see an adult, who leans and lies on his back, on the grass, observing on, as his own family of children are off out there in their own play somewhere, and the smallest and her sibling, maybe, go on, track back round around, and the former raises a hand, without a prior indication here, to wave a little at the observing other who, in sudden gentle comprehension, realises he’s been understood, as he sees it. There is an utter grace here in the full focus lack of any other island seen within the park. There has been a falling in. ‘Utter’, here, is cognate with ‘remote’: there is a grace remote. The moment is a moment on an ocean. The affect is pacific: eschew hyperbole and consider the deeply calm. If a quiet observer can be so affected, how is it that the play of the player is?
Play is language, as is the breeze in the trees. It speaks, and leaves. It circles in the branches and reforms as something else, something unknown just moments earlier, some new possibility in the making. Play has its own nuances, its own grammar, its syntaxes and rhymes and rhythms, and only the player really knows it all, the language of their own play, though they won’t articulate it all in words we know. The rest of us can observe, shall think we trace an element of it, but we’ll lose it in a while, catch a thread again a little later: silk strands in the breeze. It’s all of this and more, and yet, and yet, closed in a box, told how to move or not to move or how to lie, to be, it isn’t any wonder that the language that was there and flowing can slowly fall away. Children can bounce back, despite the impositions placed upon them (resilience despite us all and not because of what we think we give them), but their colours are always richer with the wind.
Play is language, which affects, communicates, and circles. Let it be. Play isn’t ever over. Play is open, sometimes tangled, play is felt and full to overflowing. Play is love, is wild, ferocious, hiding, hidden, screaming, play is quietly in your thinking, all day long. Play happens when it happens, where it happens, how and why it happens. Play leads to more play, leads to more play, and that is all enough, is good enough. All you need is play. Play for play’s sake makes us ‘us’. Play is all you need. Play is underneath. Play is unguided. It isn’t given but it’s taken. Play is full, is overflowing, play is felt and sometimes tangled, play is open, play is all, an over and an over, and an over and an over, play isn’t ever over. Let it be, this play for play’s sake.