The value of play for adults is something I must believe in… or else I waste a great deal of my time. Last Monday I wrote about playing with dolls; not long after that, I saw an article on boingboing about the value of self-directed play. The article discussed what we understand about play scientifically, and its functions for children and adults.
One quote from the article I particularly appreciated: “The opposite of play is not work. The opposite of play is depression.” For me, play is the remedy to worry, both at work and at home. As a scientist, the days that can feel like play are far and away the best and most useful. Sometimes I wonder if academia suppresses this needed time for play, as new professors are spending more and more time writing grants, which I cannot imagine as a play activity.
Play is also a reason I massively value unscheduled time. I like to have hours and hours of undevoted time. If my time is parsed and allotted, there is no time for valuable wanderings of the brain. In my unscheduled time over the years, I have learned some of the things I use a lot now, like sewing, bookbinding, drawing and painting.
There is also research that suggests that when play turns to work, creative output is damaged. For us many aspiring writers and creatives here on wordpress, I think that these are topics to keep in mind.