Relational Play: The Serious Stuff of Life

Relational Play: The Serious Stuff of Life

Nothing exists outside of play.

We create all that we know, in play.

We create in play, then cultivate and habituate that which we created, thus making it “real.” We often say “play is not real.” But play is not separate from reality. Rather reality is what we arrive at when we play.

Play means different things for different people. Most commonly play implies the frivolous, fun, or something other than work or the serious stuff of life. And yet play is the central catalyst for creation.

Play is like the air we breathe. It’s all around us, but unless we acknowledge its central role in our lives, we don’t mark it. And worse, we don’t leverage its power.

For us humans, it is the social carbon; the building blocks of our social lives. Our complex interactions are made of this social carbon, which, when bonded with other elements in our lives creates that which we call our social life.  By social, I mean the relational lives we live at work, home and all the various spaces we occupy during the course of living. Play is the catalyst that facilitates the chemical reactions that we call love, anger, fear, happiness, conflict, etc.

Play is the way in which we create possibilities and discover new ways of being in the world.  Play is what is created and creates that which is yet to come.

Try it out (Game): Catch yourself playing today. When did you play? When were you not playing? Note what you labeled as play and what you didn’t label as play.

I view play as a relational, creative process of trial and error by which we co-create ourselves, the other, and the world around us. Thus, I call it relational play; drawing our attention to noticing what we co-create when we are spontaneously relating with one another in our everyday life.

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