Playing with purpose

Editors note: One Wednesday evening in my favourite bar I met Nebojsa. We had an interesting philosophical discussion about Playground, playfulness and looking for purpose. And then, one week later, this article arrived in my mailbox. He said...

Planning life activities on daily basis gives us a sense of security, purpose and a clear direction.


However, an attempt to deprive those activities of purpose, gives us a deeper sense of living, more intense moments and a true connection to our surroundings.

The first insight seems to be more of our ‘default’ setting and our need to comply with the society and the communities in which we live. The ability to anticipate how we should behave and control situations allows us to take on challenges with more safety. At the same time, this shield we create to face the predictable and the unpredictable at any moment keeps us permanently alert. And that sense of ever-present need to take on and quickly solve every problem also makes us tenser, more stressed and takes away from the precious opportunity to see the beauty of our surroundings as it is.. with all its colours, shapes, it’s true nature and the glory of spontaneity.


But, contrary to the first, the second statement takes us into a field of the seemingly unknown. Just the thought of questioning our usual behaviour and habits shakes our system. This is because our daily activities involve a wide range of adopted rules. For instance, even going out to a bar carries a set of rules that we comply with: what is appropriate to wear, how do we carry ourselves as we walk, who is noticing us and what kind of signals are we sending out.


Now try to recall the feeling of playing as a kid. We tend to remember those moments of carelessness with nostalgia. Why is it that we find this carefree feeling so elusive now? Well, being a child meant playing just for the sake of it – we had no ‘goal’ in mind. In contrast, playing as an adult becomes burdened with purpose, objectives or money ... And this sets why we play, at the opposite ends of the spectrum.


Can we as adults still enjoy playing the way we did as children? If we get back to our true selves and let go of caring about the impressions our playfulness may leave on others, we can overcome "the pressure of finding meaning". Surrendering to the world of acting without an end goal, of playing for the sake of playing, and getting lost in play, we may just open the opportunity to overcome our need of making sense of everything. In this way, we denounce the convention of looking for and labelling purpose in all.

So the next time you start dancing with yourself, you play an instrument just for the sake of enjoying the sound of it (instead of making it perfect), or you express your creativity through words, movement or your voice – and you do it just because you felt it at that moment - don't let your inner critique stop you - on the contrary – seize this as a way to break free and surrender to the flow of your playfulness!


Do you agree? What stops you from getting back to your carefree childlike self?