When we hear the word “play,” many of us may think of children in playgrounds or recreational, idle-time activities. We may believe that play is great for people who have the time and need to relax, but work is what advances us—makes the world go round. Do you remember when the majority of your time was spent in play? Do you remember when that may have begun to shift and you felt pressure to spend more time in activities commonly defined as work? Do you remember how you felt about that? Apparently, just when we get comfortably resigned to responsibility, work, and achievement it turns out that it’s really mostly about the play:
- Play is the exultation of the possible. – Martin Buber
- Almost all creativity involves purposeful play. – Abraham Maslow
- The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct. -Carl Jung
- The opposite of play is not work. It’s depression. – Brian Sutton-Smith
The good news (well, besides playing—c’mon, that’s pretty great!) is that playing in consciousness works really well.
Reality is subjective. Our collective and individual realities are subject to our consciousness—individual and collective:
- I say potato; you say “po-tah-to.”
- The pain in my hip is very real to me, not so much to you.
- Liver is disgusting or delicious.
- The U.S. (Mexico, Thailand, Germany…) is the greatest country on earth
- It’s too hot out today.
Reality IS consciousness. The more conscious we are in the moment, the more effective we are at creating a meaningful reality, and, if we’re not conscious at all, there is no meaningful reality. Luckily for us, we are given amazing gifts with which to manifest our consciousness into reality:
- Physical form
- Free will (ok, that one may be up for debate)
- Sense of humor
These are all gifts we get to use to sculpt our consciousness into a reality where our human capacities can meet and play. This world is a sublime and perfect stage on which we get to play.
Sometimes the things we see happening around us seem “real” and confusing or painful or horribly unjust. Maybe they’re just manifestations of our own reactivity to what’s happening; maybe they just are. Regardless, what we DO with them, how we respond to them, is ours alone. You can change the direction from which you view something much more effectively and productively than you can change the thing itself:
- Put yourself in my shoes.
- Spend some time in someone else’s skin.
- Just imagine what it’s like to be him/her!
- Empathy creates; sympathy sedates.
- Before you criticize a man, walk a mile in his shoes. That way, when you do criticize him, you’ll be a mile away and have his shoes. (Steve Martin)
Trying to change the world to fit a single, frozen-in-time, possibly-wounded view of the world makes no sense to me, and probably wouldn’t do any good, regardless of intentions. Seems that it’s better to be conscious than to be right, since consciousness provides access to so much more—possibility, tools, connection, love—and being right doesn’t encourage growth/change or foster connection—two things required to co -create.
Empathy is a fantastic tool to increase our ability to be conscious and to enrich the quality of our consciousness—our reality. Empathy emphasizes the true oneness of all being and goes far to erase the lines that keep us divided. The most effective leaders seem to be those who have empathy for the people they lead. And watching small children who haven’t yet individuated and are more in sync seems to show that empathy makes play a lot more creative and generative.
Play can take us out of ourselves and can allow space for new growth and new consciousness. Play can help us with perspective—to view things in a new way. Play can give us the freedom to stop taking ourselves so seriously, thereby opening the way to take ourselves more as we really are rather than as we think we want to be. Empathetic play means we can do it together. So let’s play in the fields of consciousness and see what happens!
Heather Ryan has 30 years of experience as a technical writer and editor, most recently in the health care industry. She currently lives and works at Sunrise Ranch, and loves the opportunity to practice communion and unconditional love in all aspects of her living. Heather is passionate about learning, exploring/traveling, and spending time outdoors, and is extremely grateful for the opportunity to do all of that at Sunrise Ranch in her almost-home state of Colorado.