I normally keep my posts fairly top-level, and don’t talk much about my personal experiences and research in play (partially because I haven’t been as active in play research lately). But I recently had a personal observation about play I’d like to share:
My husband and I were taking our daughter for a walk recently on a beautiful fall afternoon. We chose a path along a forested creek, with a railing along the walkway. As we walked along the trail admiring the changing of the changing of the leaves, my husband’s hands started to dance along the railing in a sort of run hop skip fashion. This is a fairly common play behavior for both children and grown-ups, but normally grown-ups won’t exhibit this behavior if no one’s watching.I noticed my husband’s dancing hands, and made some joke that his hands were doing parkour.
I should mention that my husband actually teaches parkour, and he is constantly thinking about movement and motion. Instead of getting embarrassed like I’ve seen a lot of grown-ups get when they’re caught with dancing hands, he smiled and said, "yeah, watch this, my hand’s about to do some epic flow work!" With that, his hands exploded into a flurry of movement; his hand suddenly alive started running down the railing, with my husband narrating his hand’s next move. "Now he’s going to to a tic tac off that leaf." "Now watch, HUGE precision leap!" And in this fashion his hand completed the remainder of the trail walk in a flurry of epic parkour movement.
Rather than see this as silly or rare behavior, I think it’s important that adults be more open to opportunities to play and be creative. Being creative in movement is part of my husband’s job, so for him always being open to new movement and techniques, even if it’s his hand performing them, is important to his job. The same could be said for many adults who work in jobs that require creativity or just problem solving. Being open to play and creativity all the time, not just when you need to be "on," is beneficial to your work, but also your overall mental and physical health. Life is about exploration, from birth until death. Why turn your exploration "off" or only turn it on when no one’s watching. You might just inspire someone else.