The Joy of Play

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All work and no play make James a dull boy. At least that’s what I came to realize a few months ago when I had a temporary lapse in judgment and broke my media fast by watching two film trailers.

Spurred by a voicemail my brother left telling me that I had to see the new trailers for the Superman and Star Trek movies, I caved. My brother knows I’m on a media fast, but the familiarity in his tone of voice reminded me of the countless times we’ve connected over films like Star Wars, Indiana Jones, James Bond and Back to the Future. These films shaped our childhood. They were the films we would see in the cinemas as a family.

MP900305863  Remember when seeing a movie was an event? Before VHS, DVD and the Internet, going to see a movie was an outing. As a family, we brown bagged some homemade popcorn, stopped at my father’s grocery store to pick out one candy of our choosing (I liked Lemonheads) and my mom would hide it all in her purse. I still get a big smile thinking about those days as a family. Little did I know how special and unique that time was with my family.

So, I broke my media fast and watched the trailers. A part of my shadow I call “The Weasel” came out trying to reason that watching a trailer was not the same as watching a movie or if I watched it really late at night when no one was around, I could just have it be my “dirty little secret”. That reasoning didn’t last long once I shared my process with my wife. And now I’m coming clean with you.

I learned something profound about myself through the process.

Movies represent childhood for me. They remind me of the joy of being a kid. Playing football in the street with friends, baseball in the park, capture the flag. I lived in a glorious neighborhood filled with a community of families with kids all at a similar age. Lots of play with few responsibilities and worries. The exact opposite of how my life has become.

As I’ve gotten older, work seems to dominate my time. Exercising as a goal has replaced carefree play and community is all but lost in my life in Los Angeles. With no play in my life, escape (or decompression) became even more necessary and media became my vice.

Since my realization, I’ve been incorporating more and more play into my everyday. I purchased a baseball glove and have been throwing a ball with friends as often as possible, sometimes substituting a football or Frisbee for the mitt and glove. I’m going for bike rides and walks. All the play brings me closer to friends and reconnects me to that smile I had when I was a young boy. The necessity and pull to watch movies has all but disappeared.

Happy businessmen

I’ve tapped back into the joy of play in my everyday.

I truly believe now that many of our vices stem from the imbalance of play.

If you were to incorporate more play into your life, how would that look? How would you choose to play?

Photo credit: insane gal.



  1. Jaime


    I’d play in a way I rarely do….spontaneously! Everything in my life seems scheduled, planned, fussed over. I’d take a page from the Jewish tradition of sabbath and have a day in which no professional duties or housework is allowed – just rest, family and play – and keep it sacred – a priority. Since we have a wee one and teenagers at home, I’d also like to reinstate the “family night” and do something spontaneous as a family: go for a walk, go get an ice cream as an event, kick the soccer ball around at the neighborhood park, cook a meal together, play a favorite board game. Maybe even break out with a karaoke machine! Lastly, I miss dancing intensely. I lived in Latin America for years and LOVED my social life and dancing everywhere, even at house parties. Who says dancing has to be done only at the club? I say from now on if we throw a party, it can’t be rightfully called a party unless people are dancing (as my Colombian friends say). Thanks for getting me thinking about ways to inject fun back into our lives, James!

  2. Pingback: All work and no play… | The Daily Tonic

  3. Bella


    That really is a HUGE point you make James. Wow! THANK YOU a million times over for sharing your realization. As Jaime stated about dancing, I too lived through an intense period of dancing more than a decade ago. I miss it terribly even though my husband and I do dance from time to time and quite spontaneously too. Like the other day in the office when a background tune started playing and an unequivically spontaneous moment grabbed me to dance right then and there with my husband who was sitting next to me. The amazing thing that happened is that not only did we both enjoy it deeply, what I personally experienced was a flow of tears of joy throughout the entire song. I was moved by the music, moved by my “perfect” and willing partner, and by the simplicity of the event that brought such punctuation to an otherwise ordinary day at our home-office.

    So thank you for bringing this up James. Your discovery is something I practice silently on my own on a regular basis since my husband is not as passionate about nature and dancing and health/healing as I am. I draw my passion from a profound yearning for not only wanting more fun in my life like my former dance days as well as my child-play days in nature, but it also draws out the need to embrace peace and joy within self that gets so diluted and complicated in our modern day livelihood.

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