Lege godt (Play well)

It’s from the Danish words ‘lege godt’ that we get the brand name Lego. These two words hold a whole philosophy and it is one which formed a crucial part of my childhood. As a small child I was never happier than when I was tipping out my Lego collection and searching for the pieces for my latest project. I remember a huge sense of freedom as I created my structures- usually huge houses. There was something very satisfying about making a brickwork pattern and getting the roof tiles to fit. I am not by temperament very good at following instructions, so when Lego brought out Lego Technic it was my younger brother who had a whole new avenue to explore.

I have read quite a few online articles on how to survive lockdown, but I don’t think any of them have mentioned the importance of play for adults. There is mountains of research on child development and the importance of play for children, but I wonder how much research there is on adults and play? It is easy to think of play as something that should finish in childhood, in order to make way for the serious business of being an adult.

I have been very influenced over the past few years by the work of Brene Brown, a social worker who has spent time researching Shame and Vulnerability. At the heart of her research is her discovery that there is a group of people who are resilient to shame and these she calls ‘ the wholehearted’. What the wholehearted have in common is their capacity for play and creativity. Brene honestly admits that in the past she has had very little time for the creative. One of my favourite lines from her talks is where she tells of a friend inviting her to an art class. Brene thinks to herself; ‘You go do your A.R.T, I have a J.O.B.’ Brene reveals that she has had to eat humble pie and begin to explore her own creative avenues.

One of the things that monastic life has taught me is the importance of accessing my own creativity. My monastery is a very creative environment, with a history of all kinds of handwork. There is something about the monastic structure and environment that draws out your resourcefulness and opens up the possibility of play. We have cupboards and drawers full of all kinds of things just waiting to be played with.

If you are finding you are going a little stir-crazy being in a small space and trying to follow some kind of routine, perhaps now is time to schedule in some playtime. Brene Brown defines play as ‘time spent without purpose, where you lose track of time and engage in an activity that you don’t want to end’.

Try it and see what happens. Lege godt!