Children Must Play..........

As a boy I ran to the bluebell woods and the old quarry. Because there was an amazing treasure there- something that nobody knew about- only us. So we ran, laughed and piled into the woods. Our treasure was a tractor tyre- massive, heavy, remarkable. Why would somebody leave such am impressive object in the woods? Thankfully we had discovered it, and the trye was ours.

It was big. It took much effort to get it upright- and even more effort to roll this mammoth wonder up the hill. We huffed and puffed- we sweated and grinned- we were doing the unthinkable-something that had never been done before. We were adventurers- we had a quest- and so we rolled the tyre up the hill.

When we looked down the hill- we marveled- what a long way we'd come! Then with mounting excitement- we rolled the gigantic tyre down the hill. The wild thrill as it bounced and rolled was spectacular. It was a thing of beauty- powerful, magnificent. And unleashed into the world by us.

Play is a wonderful thing. It makes the world come alive. Ordinary objects are transformed. Play offers endless possibilities- a child's mind, heart and body swell up with life and enthusiasm when they fully play. Play at it's best is like a river or stream- sparkling with life, refreshing- splashing here and there- wild and free. Welcoming, generous and energetic. Play unites individuals and builds strong connections. It costs little or nothing- all it takes is imagination. If a scientist invented a machine that could measure happiness-I'm certain the machine would prove that an old trye in the woods can give more happiness than any of the latest gadgets on offer from Apple.

The play I found in the woods made a big impression- a big wild tyre track across my soul. I've been following that track, back into the woods for years. But it wasn't only freedom and joy I discovered. It was the thrill of working together. I couldn't roll the gigantic tyre on my own. But only with friends. Play is a great teacher- and a shrewd teacher- she never for a moment gives away her secret- that her games are the best University in the world.

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct. (Carl Jung)

Scientists, inventors, artists and entrepreneurs all know that play is the 'father of invention', just as hard work and determination are the mother. "Creative people are curious, flexible, persistent, and independent with a tremendous spirit of adventure and a love of play." (Henri Matisse French painter 1869–1954). But even hard work and determination are learned through play. It was tough rolling a huge tractor tyre up a hill- impossible for an 8 year old on their own. But in a group! We were determined- and the determination that is born out of play is powerful- powerful because it is wild and free. A force of nature, an instinctual drive.

There's an old Cat Stevens song, "Where do the children play?" In fairy stories children play beside water. In 'The Frog prince", the princess loses her golden ball in a well. A slimy frog returns it. A similar thing happens in 'Iron John'- only this time a hairy man appears from a lake and takes the prince's golden ball. Children play in the water of life- play is the water of life. The wise fairy stories knew this. When the child loses their 'golden ball' they enter the adult world- and as adults they lose the ability to play. This is a tragic loss. But the story does not end there. In the fairy stories the child goes on a quest- a quest to get back what was lost.

We are all on a journey- a journey that leads back into play. This journey does return us to the naive innocence of childhood, but into the vital life, heart and creativity of play.

A child who does not play is not a child, but the man who does not play has lost forever the child who lived in him. (Pablo Neruda, Chilean Poet, 1904-1973))

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