By Karin Nyberg
“Nothing kills the ego like playfulness, like laughter. When you start taking life as fun the ego has to die, it cannot exist anymore.” –Osho
Right now, reading these words, are you playing? If you were to become playful, how would you notice? Take a leap into the way of play and see what happens! Look at your body, the way you move, your emotions, your thoughts. Then, look at the one who is looking. Who is that? Who am I … playing with?
Once upon a time, one month or one hundred years ago, walking on the beach with troubling thoughts, it hit me again: Hey, I can just play right now! Instantly, a changed perspective—from tunnel vision to a panoramic view. The sand under my feet and the ocean want to play, too, and join the game with cheeky pokes and flirts. Sense, Touch, and Smell jump in and expand the playing field. And from that moment, someone inside has curiously started to observe, finding the stillness within bubbly enthusiasm. Like a child playing hide- and-seek, not being able to contain her excitement. Letting the body and life move in its own flow, she curiously looks out from my eyes. I wonder where I am going. Aha! I’m going to swim. Oh, what a funny shell! Now, my right arm is a slide and the shell takes a ride! And now, a totally new Now! Wow!
Once upon another now, I am babysitting a Spanish-speaking boy without fully knowing the language. So we speak play-language. He finds a board, puts some stone passengers on it, and we have a bus going to an unknown destination. Look, my legs have become a tunnel and my arm is a gate. “Say the magic word,” I say in play-speech. A word jumps out from his mouth and the gate opens! Following our impulses, we create the game together. By saying YES to whatever the other one comes up with, we end up somewhere we never could have expected.
Are games only happy? No. When kids play, they play it all and want it all. Scared, sad, happy, excited, angry, wild. My friends’ child is just as thrilled when she lays statue-still with closed eyes waiting for me to kiss her forehead as when she waits for me to add some more salt and pepper to her back before I’m a wolf that eats her! So, what if we realize that our whole life is just a game we can play, in Now after Now, with whatever we meet?
“But if we play we won’t get anything done!” says that annoying stalker that keeps on coming back. “Life is serious and adults shouldn’t play!”
So, Oscar Wilde decides to jump in from beyond the grave and help, “Life is too important to take seriously!”
And, George Bernard Shaw joins, “We don’t stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing.”
“Okay. Whatever. I don’t care, I have important things to do,” the stalker mutters grumpily.
Well, what about this one? Yogi Rajneesh shouts with enthusiasm, “The moment you start seeing life as non-serious, a playfulness, all the burden of your heart disappears. All the fear of death, of life, of love—everything disappears.”
The dead players go back to their afterlives. We go back to our minds. Game over.
Or—can I play with this?
Karin is a Hridaya Yoga teacher.