Conversations For Transformation: Essays Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

Conversations For Transformation

Essays By Laurence Platt

Inspired By The Ideas Of Werner Erhard

And More

I Am Therefore I Play

Diamond Mountain Appellation, Napa Valley, California, USA

April 4, 2010

"Life is a game.
 In order to have a game, something has to be more important than something else.
 If what already is, is more important than what isn't, the game is over.
 So life is a game in which what isn't is more important than what is.
 Let the good times roll."

When I attended high school through seventh grade (or as it was known in South Africa, "standard five"), a buzzer sounded during class to indicate the start of recess (which we called "break"). Class time was for work. Break was play  time. From eighth grade through twelfth grade (which we called "standard ten"  or "matric" for matriculation), a bell replaced the buzzer. But the signal was the same: class time ie work was over (at least temporarily) and we were permitted to play. No one ever worked  during break. And certainly no one ever played  during class. At least, we weren't supposed  to. If we did, we were reprimanded or punished.

Being at high school and of an impressionable age, the enduring lesson I learned was there's Life  which is ongoing all the time, and within Life there's work, and after you've got your work done, only then is there time to play. Within Life there's also play, but play has no place during work, and must stop when work restarts. The lesson was very, very clear: in Life, work and play are separate ie in Life, work and play don't mix.

It took me the better part of the next decade to unlearn that lesson. Actually, to tell the truth, that lesson ingrained itself in me so deeply that every now and then I'll still find myself bound up by its arbitrariness. As soon as I catch myself being run by it again, I'll unlearn it all over again. That's when I notice in the space which opens up when I unlearn "in Life, work and play don't mix", an entirely new possibility becomes available. This possibility is the possibility of Being playful.

That's Being  with a capital "B". To be present to this possibility of Being playful, you have to distinguish playing as being who you really are  (which is a transformed view of who you really are), from playing as not working  (which is an arbitrary standard, blindly accepted without rigor a long, long time ago). In other words, the possibility of Being playful is invented by distinguishing playing as who you're being, instead of playing as something you do  when you're not working.

Engaging in this inquiry, I had a breakthrough after which my life was never the same again. This is what I saw: since Being playful is a function of who I really am, in other words since Being playful is accessible  simply by being who I really am, then there's a possibility, a clearing for Being playful to be the context for all  my actions and all my activities including work  all the time.

When I got that, I immediately stopped working. I'll never work another day in my life ever again. It's all  play. This, by the way in all honesty, isn't an original idea of mine. It's all play now  ... but it always was  all play. I just hadn't distinguished it until then, so I hadn't seen it - even though it's always been available like a possibility.

Be careful. Not working  doesn't mean not being financially responsible. Not working doesn't mean not paying the rent and the electricity bill. Neither for that matter does not working only become possible when you've saved up enough money to retire. Do artists retire? No of course artists don't retire. Neither would you retire if you live Being playful. Neither would you retire if you live your life as an expression of art. Neither would you retire if you live your life as if your life depends on it. If you're living powerfully and you're living a life you love, you wouldn't want  to retire. That's why artists don't retire.

Clearly in this distinction, not working doesn't mean being idle. Some of my favorite people who don't work anymore ie the people I know who only play all the time  are paradoxically the hardest working people I know.

Indeed, let the good times roll!  Let the good times roll indeed.

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