On work and play

When I was a child someone said to me:

For a child work is an interruption of play; for an adult play is an interruption of work.

While I see the truth in that I wonder if I’m still a child because I still see work as an interruption of play. Of course, now I’m 30-ish I play differently from the way I played as a child (mostly) and I work differently as well, but when it comes to hanging the washing out or going back to the office after a break there’s no doubt in my mind that I am inconvenienced by the intrusion into my life.

I imagine that I may continue like this unless I have children in which case I suspect my existing play time will become none existent as I believe they bring unprecedented amounts of washing, sterilizing, sleepless nights, cleaning, shopping, etc., all of which definitely counts as work. While I hear that people do play with their children I can quite imagine that at that point play does become an interruption of work.

Of course not everyone without kids has as much playtime as I do. I do not worry if my house is dusty and untidy and, it being a fairly new building, it does not demand maintainance like an older property could. I prefer the garden to resemble a meadow with perennials that look after themselves and have that wild and un-manicured look. (The vegetable gardening is more cultivated but that counts as play.) If I were house-proud I wouldn’t have so much play time!

There’s not always a clear-cut division between work and play: an enjoyable task for one  person is another’s dreaded chore and even within your own life there will be things that you enjoy in the right mood yet despise in others. Even being at “work” can be play sometimes, particularly when that Friday-afternoon feeling hits the office and ludicrous conversation is the norm.

I’m know I’m not the only adult I know who still thinks work is an interruption of play. A colleague asked me last week why we had to return to work after morning break. I replied that she had to go back to work in order to have a lunch break. She was happy with the reasoning – surely that’s a case of treating work as an interruption of play?

I hope that I can remain a child by this definition for a long time, even if I do more work than I do at the moment. I’d rather think of life as a series of play-times, punctuated with work, than think of it as a long spell of drudgery with the occasional game. I feel sorry for people who feel they have to work all the time – I hope they don’t forget how to play.


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