My first thought when I read that quote was “Yep, that sounds about right.”
My second thought was, “Mmmmm, I wonder what Plato would discover about me?”
And then I thought (because, occasionally, I do continue thinking) “I wonder what he means by ‘play’?”
1. take part in (a game or sport)
2. engage in activity for enjoyment and recreation rather than a serious or practical purpose.
I don’t believe, at least looking at me from the outside, that most people would consider me a very playful person. In fact, if you were to agree with the first dictionary definition only, I could probably be considered as one of the most unplayful people on the planet.
‘I don’t wanna play!’
Because I don’t like to play games. I never have. (That’s not an apology by the way—just a fact.) I didn’t like to play games when I was a kid—and nothing much has changed since then. (I absolutely hated sports days at school where you were put on a team and made to play a game you didn’t want to play, with a bunch of kids you didn’t want to play with, and, to rub salt into the wound, you were actually expected to enjoy the process as well!) Even now as an adult I’ve never really seen the allure of on-line games, card games, or the dreaded ‘board’ games—they’re fun for about ten minutes and then I get bored with them (see what I did there?) and just want to pack up and go home. And I definitely don’t find myself all overcome with excitement at the prospect of watching a game show or sport on the telly.
See what I mean? I sound like a barrel of laughs, don’t I?
But in my defence I’d have to say that my ‘play’ time runs much more in line with the second definition. I like to spend my leisure time reading, writing, sketching or watching movies—none of which really need other active participants. (I can just see Plato’s notes now —’Does not play well with others’ . . . )
But there are exceptions to every rule—even for me—and although I may not like to play games with other people, I really do love to play games with my dogs.
Well—except for Molly. Molly doesn’t play. At all. She was five years old when she came to us and I just don’t think she ever learned how—and no amount of encouragement or enticement over the next four years has made a scrap of difference. She did once—in a mad fit of doggie-bravado—make a tentative grab for a toy that was lying near her, but unfortunately it squeaked at her, and that was enough to send scuttling to the deep-dark-under-the-couch for the next couple of hours. She has never felt the need to repeat the experience. (With little conversation and even fewer play skills, I wonder what Plato would make of her?)
Mabel & Maude
Luckily, in the playfulness department Maudie more than makes up for Molly’s (and my) lack. Maudie was born to play. Every moment not spent eating or sleeping is for finding something, or someone, to play with. She just can’t help herself. She’s noisy, inventive, hilarious—and totally relentless. No wonder Mabel has gone so grey so quickly—having a little sister like Maudie must be totally exhausting. Mabel will join in with a game as long as it is not too boisterous (I am sure she only joins in a lot of Maudie’s games because she won’t get a moments peace until she does) but, just quietly, I think she’d really rather prefer a quiet cuddle.
But, you know, be they playful or not-so-much, every day I am grateful for their presence in my life. They are my saving grace. Nothing makes me laugh more than playtime with my girls. I am sure I would be a sadder, sorrier, and definitely more unplayful person without them (even if Maudie does stretch the limits sometimes when she saves her loudest toy (her pink ‘oinker’ pig) to play with when I am trying to watch the evening news . . . or brings me the ball to throw . . . again . . . and again . . . and again . . . )
So, all in all, I think my initial thought on Plato’s quote still holds true. It does sound right, bearing in mind that play means different things to different people.
Hopefully Plato would take that in to account and watch me play, both with my books and pencils, and then again with my dogs, before coming to any major conclusions about me . . .