There is no good in separating the two. To learn IS to play, inherently connected. Ok, play without learning might work – although it’s surely harder than you think to NOT learn while playing. But learning without play is painful and no good. It’s full of fear, judgement and hardship.
As a kid entering school you enter a world where learning comes with rules and regulation. It’s an unhealthy relationship and most people fight the consequences their whole lives. It has crept over to many parts in my life for sure. Performance being key and everything being rated has spoilt the happiness in learning for the longest time. There’s things like drawing and painting I myself might never enjoy again.
When I was a kid I was on the lucky side, because the joy in learning never totally vanished. But it was tainted by force and expectations. And I wouldn’t get to realise what this had cost me until much later in life. Instead I did what a lot of kids do: I complied. I grew into the world of measurement and fear. I excelled and got rewarded. It had the air of play, but it was dead serious.
Years of conditioning led to a grown-up self who is more used than not to NOT listen to oneself. Someone who is so accustomed to cross one’s boundaries over and over without even realising.
Patience and natural mindfulness got swapped for measured time. Things had to be accomplished within a certain time span to be valued.
Freedom got swapped for goals and quality control. How well did someone else, who had supposedly invested a similar amount of time? Speaking of “how well” – I had elaborate ideas of what that was. I had a perfect version of myself in mind and I’d never cease to strive.
I became so good at whatever I touched. And I’d lost so, so much.
Stressed out. Hiding what wasn’t useful. Always, and frantically searching for this completely elusive inner peace. Desperate. Numbing. Reaching higher and higher, but getting further and further from contentment.
I had lost true play.
Losing myself in the moment. Having fun, even – or most of all – with the supposedly “serious” stuff. Being free to try again. Loving mistakes, because they give me a guideline where to learn next. Or they just show I touched my own boundaries.
It gets really sad when I think about more than my wounds, but those of society. It’s all of us. No one teaches you to revel play. Instead a lot of us get told off whenever we wake up a bit and start to be ourselves. We “must” have kids as an excuse and when we play with them, we always wear a bit of a sheepish smile due to a bit of bad consciousness.
Let’s break the vicious circle. Get out there and play again. Let’s have fun learning, growing, exploring ourselves and the world around us.
To learn is to play and it’d do us humans better to not forget that. ❤️