About Playing

Dear Bryce,

I want you to know that you’ve been doing a great job at life. Watching you grow this year has been a lesson to me. You love to play. Your mother said once that you lived to play. That still fits.

But you are such a good student. You do all your homework and usually finish it quickly so that you can play. Your teachers and we your parents have some difficulty keeping you from all that play when nobody else is ready to play. Even with those, there’s part of me that never wants you to stop playing. I want you to find a way to keep playing, to live playfully.

Part of me wants to say, when we’re at the table about to eat, before we pray, that we must be reverent. And part of me wants to edit myself and find a way to explain to you that all of prayer is playful. That the two in the eyes of the Divine are the same. I want to tell you that if you can balance living and playing, then you’ve lived well. I want to tell you to be as responsible as possible, to be as strong and generous as possible, and to do all of those without compromising play. I want you to be able to consistently revile in life, to be about playing, and to do so without compromising all those other important things.

It is a succinct picture of Sabbath. It is a simple way of expressing joy. It is pure and honest and descriptive of your personality. It is, in a sense, who you are. That is both frightening for the stark clarity that is you and enlivening because it is a kind of complete integrity on display.

I want you to play. In some ways, son, that’s all I want you to do. Perhaps the best thing I can tell you is to find a way to always play. To get the other stuff done. To do the homework. To clean your room. To get all those things “out of the way” so that you can do what you love, do what you live to do.

Perhaps it’ll take me a few years to fine tune my message, to figure out how to present that lesson to you well. Right now, you’ve got the playing thing down. I hope you never lose it. I hope in my efforts to father you that I don’t hamper it. And I hope you keep teaching me this year and that I learn a bit more about play.

 

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