I tried a little experiment with a group of adults. I heard about this and thought I’d see how it worked. I handed out cards with directions to all of them. One group received these instructions – “You are seven years old and school has been cancelled. You have the day to yourself. Who would you see? Where would you go? What would you do?” The rest of the group got the same message without the first sentence. After they were finished writing out their ideas I said, “Before we share our answers I want you to do one more thing. Write down the kinds of things you might do with a brick.” And I showed them a brick.
The group that just had the day to themselves suggested things like using it to build a building, as a support for shelves, as a doorstop… and so on. The group that had been thinking of themselves as seven suggested using it to make a dam in a stream, to tie it to a rope, throw the rope over a branch and use it as a counterweight to send things flying into the air… and other fun things. By simply putting themselves back into a time when life included exploring, they thought in terms of play.
At least that’s what we call it… play. We don’t call it experimenting. We don’t call it study. We call it play.
Kids play. Adults study and experiment. What would happen if we continued to face life as playing? We would do this thing that both children and adults do. We would explore.
We wouldn’t take ourselves so seriously. We wouldn’t think of knowing as much as wondering. We wouldn’t have answers as much as seeking understanding. What would we do with such an attitude?
There are times when exploration requires patient, repeated attempts at understanding or gaining skill. We call that practice. But if don’t ever stop practicing or don’t bring all our practice back into playing, we lose the worth of the activity. We lose humility. We lose perspective. Then we become adult. And all we do is put things into practice.
Jesus called a little child to him, and placed the child among them. And he said: “Truly I tell you, unless you change and become like little children, you will never enter the kingdom of heaven. Therefore, whoever takes the lowly position of this child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.” Matthew 18:2-4