Wednesday, September 19, 2007

The Healing Power of Playfulness

We've blogged about laughter being the best medicine before and now, one of our readers brought this extraordinary and tender audio slide show about play, to our attention. The slide show and podcast were put together by Stuart Brown, MD, the director of the National Institute for Play. Dr. Brown and his board of advisors say that "pleasurable, purposeless activity prevents violence and promotes trust, empathy, and adaptability to life's complication." The Institute studies the cutting-edge science of human play, and draws on a rich universe of study of intelligent social animals.

It reminds of a novel I read not too long ago, by Dean Koontz, called One Door Away From Heaven. And although I think Dean Koontz has the wrong impression about 'bioethicists', he does get dogs right -- towards the end of the book, he talks about dogs and their connection to a "playful Presence." Here's the quote:
"Every world has dogs or their equivalent, creatures that thrive on companionship, creatures that are of a high order of intelligence although not of the highest, and that therefore are simple enough in their wants and needs to remain innocent. The combination of the innocence and their intelligence allows them to serve as a bridge between what is transient and what is eternal, between the finite and the infinite.

"...For those who despair that their lives are without meaning and without purpose, for those who dwell in a loneliness so terrible that it has withered their hearts, for those who hate because they have no recognition of the destiny they share with all humanity, for those who would squander their lives in self-pity and in self-destruction because they have lost the saving wisdom with which they were born, for all these and many more, hope waits in the dreams of a dog, where the sacred nature of life may be clearly experienced without the all but blinding filter of human need, desire, greed, envy, and endless fear. And here, in dream woods and fields, along the shores of dream seas, with a profound awareness of the playful Presence abiding in all things..."

So take a deep breath and think, when was the last time you played?

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