the weight of play
humans at pain?
The trailer for Humans at Play begins as promising as any Nextflix documentary trailer could. The voice of Idris Elba booms out: We humans love to play. The series attempts to answer the question: Why do we play?
And like most things that attach themselves to seeking meaning, this doc becomes mired in the meaning that it seeks while missing the point all together. So far, I’ve watched people get gored by bulls, cry, whale and whimper in agony, get hit by sticks and generally have a miserable time.
If the documentary series were enacting a movement with its content, it’s not drawing me in. Instead, it seems to delight in holding up signs that show me just how damn serious this play stuff is. And? It misses the point.
It misses the point because of the direction it moves. Instead of moving towards delight, mystery, joy, discovery and resilience, this one moves towards, pain, risk, disappointment and the horrible, irrational, extremes we go to in order to play.
Sure. That’s part of humans at play. Play is a way we train ourselves for the realities of life. One of those realities? Existence and life are mostly meaningless. The meaning we make of life is for us. It’s the story we tell ourselves. And it dies with us. Even if we share our story, the others relate to our story through theirs.
This blog is a culmination of years of me asking “What do I know that’s helpful?”
What I know about is movement, therapy and play. Play though serious and necessary is also light, surprising, joyful and lively. Play seems to get dismissed because, although it takes up a great deal of physical, mental and energetic space in our culture, play itself isn’t given much weight.
The series instead would have been better served with the title: Humans Competing. There’s more to play than competition. There are ways we play all the time that are subtle emotional, energetic, intellectual or directional changes in our interactions with each other.
Somehow it seems that we’re unhappy taking important things lightly.
Play is important. Many thing are. In each of them we have an opportunity to choose how big we want to make them in or experience of being alive and how heavy they need to be.
Where do you add unnecessary weight, amplified, Idris Elba style gravity to something?
Where do people experience you as ‘too light?’
How can you tell the difference?