Saturday, May 26, 2012

The Seriousness of Play

"Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play" - Heraclitus.

Seriousness?  WTF is Heraclitus talking about?

Or is he being ironic, like some bloggers we know? Does he mean that man is most nearly himself when he is not serious at all? That our true nature is to be frivolous?

Surely not. By all accounts he was a miserable old sod, sometimes being known as the "weeping philosopher." He got the dropsy and treated himself with a "liniment of cow manure." Then he died. It doesn't sound like he was a barrel of laughs to me

So is he saying that children's play is deadly serious and we grownups should play seriously too?

My play is sailing a Laser and regular readers will know that from time to time, about once very three or four years or so, I threaten to get serious about it. Get fit. Train. Work hard. Keep a training log. Learn from my mistakes. Sail 100 times a year. Actually try to win regattas and stuff.

But that mood doesn't last very long, and pretty soon I'm back to being happy as a fat, lazy, dumb, totally useless, back-of-the-fleet, crap sailor again.

What do you think? Should we be serious about play? Is play more fun if you take it seriously?

And if you got the dropsy would you self-medicate with liniment of cow manure...  or rum?


Bursledon Blogger said... - serious stuff

JP said...

Maybe he means less self-conscious? By forgetting yourself when relaxing your true nature shows through?

Anonymous said...

Some years ago I did one of those work personality tests (Myers Briggs or some sorta thing like that). They put people into buckets of people for who work is work and play is work versus work is play and play is play.

I suspect that most sailors and most especially sailing bloggers find that play is work.

Tillerman said...

Well Captain JP works really hard at his blogging but he hardly ever sails.

O Docker is just naturally smart and we all think he's brilliant even though he never sails, and hardly every blogs.

That lady with the bikinis who writes a blog that pretends to be about sailing but is really about how sexy she is (I forget her name) is obviously working at playing at being sexy.

Joe Rouse works really hard at taking pictures of all his sisters catching fish in bikinis. I don't think he ever has any fun at all.

I don't know if Noodle is playing or working. I mean she isn't even a real person. Can imaginary people do either?

Tugster takes photos of people at work.

I think the Knitting Sailor is the only blogger I follow who is really playing at playing at sailing; but she works at her knitting.

O Docker said...

I'm with JP. Maybe the Greek word Heraclitus used had connotations other than our serious and something's been lost in translation.

Kids get wrapped up in their play in a way that would embarrass most adults. They've no need to save face. They're not afraid to have some, well, serious fun.

The cow manure I can't explain at all. Heraclitus must have been seriously into the ouzo.

Tillerman said...

Brilliant (as usual) O Docker! Perhaps Heraclitus really meant the "intensity" of play. Someone should write a post about playing with intensity.

Keep Reaching said...

I would agree with either less self-consciousness or intensity. But I dont think he meant playing with a tent city. Unless it had a Doric column.

Anonymous said...

There is a part of play where you lose track of everything - time, yourself, other people. When you're so deep in the moment there is no you and you become the thing you're doing.

I recall one time when I was in college and on a weekend camping trip where a friend and I played in a waterfall. It actually seemed like forever. We were laughing and hollering. It was so much fun. The two most notable things about it were that it was really, really fun and there was absolutely no sense of time, even though several hours passed.

For me, sailing is like that. I get so in tune with the water and the sails, the wind, sun and clouds that I forget about everything else. That may be why I'm sail crazy.

Thanks for this thought and memory provoking post.

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