Why Humans Play

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Humankind plays to survive and survives to play. In fact, play embodies the many contradictions that life on earth forces us to confront and accept. A young child requires play to secure his survival in a dangerous world where death lurks in unlikely corners, thus securing his welcome into adulthood. An adult requires play so that he may recollect the sensations of youth and cling to life as death and decay cast foreboding shadows over him. But, of course, the substance of play is more than just survival, it is life itself.

A human at play is a three-dimensional art form which transcends time, space and reality. Watching play occur is captivating and reinvigorates the actor as well as the observer. The body takes on the abstractions of the mind and the mind absorbs the concrete experiences of the body as it forms a bridge between actual and counterfactual realities. Within play, just as with life, beauty and peace coexist with conflict and evil. Balance is sought and order is kept.

Play allows the impossible and helps us to confront the inevitable. Death can be vanquished and life reimagined. Consider a young child at play. He may elect to take on the role of a villain for a time. Playing this character, the child is evil, despicable even, and he experiences with terror the weight which such a role imposes upon him. Then, made weary by this burden, the child suddenly casts off the villain’s cumbersome robes and dons the ethereal armor of a conqueror. He crushes the villain with the hope that he has destroyed a part of himself which is equally as formidable. Play instructs and enables the inertia of humanity, while all at once embodying life itself. It is how we live and what we live for.