Abundant Play Dates: Can the Games Begin?

by Yule Heibel on April 18, 2003

Walking at the beach today, a frisky, playful dog I mistook for a puppy jumped all over Jigger, my Cairn terrier, and the two spontaneously struck up a playdate. This happens all the time in the mile-long stretch of Dallas Road that is Victoria’s official off-leash area (there are many unofficial ones). It turned out, though, that this dog was already 11 years old, hardly a puppy. Her owner said, “I’m very proud of her, to me she’s still a puppy.” That idea of taking pride in the dog’s personality struck me as curious, yet somehow right. These two — owner and pet, not just pet and pet — were playing together, too, and she articulated that we are somehow proud not just of our dogs — such great animals! — but also of our own ability to play. And she was implicitly adding: it’s good to be proud of being able to play. The ability to play is so abundant in human makeup. It is NOT a scarce commodity. But that’s easy to forget, especially when you train your gaze on all the things that are wrong with the world. Suddenly, abundance disappears and scarcity rules, simply because good things get squeezed out by all the crap. (I know all about that — my mother’s favourite maxim still resonates: “Life is like a chicken coop ladder, full of shit from top to bottom.” It was a guidebook for scarcity. The sky is falling! The sky is falling! I would stay calm during these onslaughts, and I bet she thought I was retarded.) But if you want to feel abundant and playful, you have to be able to feel that your life is not determined by scarcity. It gets harder and harder to do when you realize that part of the agenda of the status quo is to increase scarcity, partly by letting those at the top squeeze out everybody else’s abundance. I suppose they’re ruled by scarcity-thinking, too, because they think that by squeezing their hands real tight around something, they’ll hold it. Try that with water some time. An open hand works better. So, how can we play longer, better? How can you write a blog that points to all the stupid stuff going on, without letting scarcity spread all over it? How do you make it abundant and playful, and still manage to critique? Could play be a strategy? I really think there’s a strong possibility that we are heading toward global-corporate fascism, and that embedded in our very cognition of what’s subject and what’s object is a flaw that might prove to be fatal, yet I put children into this world …who play all the time because that’s their work. I hope they remember to play forever, and that a child’s sense of abundance-in-play, not some old men’s sense of scarcity, will lead us.

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