Here’s Our Smiley Lady, Ruth’s Blog: What is the opposite of play? Is it work? I don’t think so!

Strawberry Smiley
One of about a dozen Strawberry Smileys.
Slicing strawberries for the Spontaneous Smiley Project.
That make them the tastey-est business expense ever?

What is the opposite of play? Is it work? I don’t think so. 

What is the opposite of play? Is it work? I don’t think so. I’d argue that the definition for play and the definition for work are the same. Does the following work for both: To be engaged in physical or mental activities in order to achieve a purpose. That sounds like WORK to me. But, hey wait a minute. That sounds like PLAY to me.

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As a teacher I am sure that children at play are children at work. Just because they derive fun/positive feelings from the play in no way detracts from its being work. Adults engaged in work also experience fun/positive feelings from a job well done; their work is play. Work and play have so many commonalities. It would be healthy if society saw play as important work. It would be healthy if society saw work as an important form of play.

So if play and work share a definition, what then is the opposite of play? I searched through tons of online dictionaries and thesauruses (or would that be thesauri?)  as well as my old tattered dictionary & thesaurus my dear old dad gave me when I left home for college (Henry, I really miss you. It’s been 19 years and I still feel just as strongly as I did back in 1992 that it was bad, bad, bad that you went and died. Oh, how you would have enjoyed your grandchildren. They’ve turned out really great. Sorry you didn’t get to see them grow up!).

I looked at both the verb play and the noun play. Here are a bunch of the words used to describe play/playfulness (please take them as I type them, it’s too much work to try to get tenses and such correct): entertainment, relaxation, recreation, diversion, distraction, leisure, enjoyment, happy, joyful, pleasure, fun, revelry, enjoy, fun, frolic, mess around, goof off, caper, cheerful, lighthearted, buoyant, jovial, jocular, without a care.

I’ve only included a small sample of all the words associated with play.  As I re-read these words, a growing certainty arises: the opposite of play is not work, it is sadness, sorrow, depression, adversity, agonize, angst.

I hope you choose to rejoice/play. I know it seems easy and trite to say it is a choice, but actually it is! Life, even as full of troubles and challenges as it is for all of us, is really full of wonder. Life if full of offers to play. Sadly we often forget to make the choice to play when it is clear that play can bring us the joy.

Smile. Be happy and remember to play!

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