Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Playing Around

When I was in college I had a nerf basketball hoop on the back of my door. In the middle of studying for an exam, or writing a paper, I'd stop for a while and just shoot baskets and get lost in the fun of bouncing a ball off my "backboard" door. Eventually I'd return to studying or writing my paper feeling renewed and refreshed. Yep, I was playing around.

Reading the NY Times article I posted recently on The Greatness Project Facebook page about the psychological benefits of play caused me to assess my own uber-focus on achievement. If I'm being honest, I've cut out almost all of the play in my life. Oh sure, I say I have fun. But do I do something just for the fun of it? Not really. Everything in my life has some sort of achievement as the goal. Working out, writing, reading, all have goals attached to them so I can "feel" productive. Doing nothing for the sake of doing nothing has been effectively pushed out of my life.

But what do I really gain? I miss the times of regeneration and renewal, times of wandering reflection just sitting and doing nothing. I'm so caught up in productivity that even if I give time over to play it is regulated by a strict schedule.

Which will lead to personal greatness: continuous productivity or occasion play? I don't know. Reading about great individuals they seemed to have a single-mindedness that drove them even to the point of exhaustion. But is that really personal greatness? Play unleashes creativity and re-energizes the soul. How can that be bad on the road to personal greatness?

I hope that you make opportunities to play, relax and reflect. I'm beginning to believe it is essential to life balance. Whatever you do, take time to play. As for me, I'm going out and buying a new nerf basketball set.

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