This morning I was reflecting on how Work and Play are often separated. And lo and behold a story spilled forth. : )
Once upon a time there was a boy named Dirk. He grew and became a man and every day he would go to the office and work. He dreaded these long hours, but he had bills to pay, and so he put his head down and just got through it. He was not happy in the least.
in a nearby village there was a girl named Shay and every day she would play and indulge herself in whatever she fancied. As she grew older she reveled in days of self-indulgence. Yet there were moments when she was honest with herself and she faced the reality that her play had no focus, meaning, or purpose. Until one day, Shay decided to wander into the world outside her village. There had to be more than just aimless, self-indulgent play.
And because of that desire, she ventured through the dark forest and came to a clearing where there were lots of fast cars, bright lights, and large boxy buildings. And as she looked to her left she saw a man – it was Dirk – sitting on a park bench with his head in his hands. He was on his 15-minute break and for the first time in his life, he decided not to be on his phone and stay at his desk, but to venture across the massive parking lot and go sit on this bedraggled, forgotten bench, at the edge of the forest.
Shay came up to Dirk and saw a man who looked stressed, overworked, and alone. Dirk didn’t even see Shay come sit down on the other end of the bench. Clay rolled a red rubber ball, so that it landed in front of Dirk’s feet. Shay had realized that just as much as she longed for meaning and purpose, she wanted Dirk to be free of whatever was holding him captive.
Dirk leaned over, picked up the ball and tossed it to Shay. She caught it and tossed it back. They got up off the bench and began throwing it and talking and telling stories about their lives.
They did this every day. At first for just 15 minutes. Then after a couple weeks they met for an hour after Dirk got off work. Before they knew it they were spending whole Saturdays together. And by summer they were spending weekends and even whole weeks together.
Dirk was discovered joy for the first time. He found that even in his work he could discover opportunities for playfulness. And Shay began to discover intention, discipline, and purpose for the first time and it felt strangely calming and energizing. She told Dirk that her play now felt like a river with strong banks and healthy trees. It no longer felt like a chaotic flood. Their relationship and connection grew and grew…
Until finally they made their home together in a small village in the forest. They both savored how they were coming to discover the wonder of how their lives together were much more fulfilling. In fact, they were building a life together of deep satisfaction.
And ever since that day, they welcomed the overworked and the self-indulgent into the joy of discovering playful work, and focused play.
It’s obvious when you go to an improv show that the improvisers are playing and having fun. What isn’t as obvious is that a lot of disciplined work goes into pulling off a good show. And focused discipline is essential in a scene. “If you lose your dog, don’t fly to Australia” means the audience wants you to find your dog. It doesn’t have to happen instantly, but stay disciplined to keep that star in sight.
What would it look like for us to find a joyful relationship between work and play in our own lives? And what would it look like to work for justice so that all children and adults can find healing and freedom and enter into this joyous dance of work and play?
Hint: Start small.