Play versus Diversion

Play in this sense is more than just something enjoyable, although enjoyment is necessary. Play is a way to get out of the past and future and into the present. Play overcomes the physical and psychological feeling of 'having no options.' Play is an end to itself. However in this discussion of living with purpose and feeling, play is being recommended as a means to an end also. It will be necessary to just hold that paradox, it cannot be resolved. Play has the following elements:

When the subject of play comes up, a word has to be said about competition. Competition can be play if the elements of play listed above are present, especially the idea of play or competition existing as an island. What gives competition a bad name is 'permanent' competition', such as in a career or business. Constant striving to be the 'best' is an attempt to be lovable by being special. Day and night 'competition' like this is really more like vigilance, and it causes a contraction, unlike the opening up that happens with the 'playing one's heart out' in the moment that competition is meant to be. On a basketball court say, to be competitive is to be very aware of the present environment, but in a career spanning years, to be competitive is to focus on a few things and miss many other things.

Also, those of us who have trouble with healthy aggression have trouble with competition. If there is not a strong sense of self, and if self-nourishment is restricted, competitive situation will lead to withdraw and freezing up. Secondarily to this, there is an ideology against competition which asserts play should be cooperative but not competitive. This comes from a confusion of aggression with violence, and a confusion of playful competition with permanent competition