“The opposite of play is not work, it is depression.” –Brian Sutton Smith
That quote resonated from the podcast and cut through my work session like garbage trucks disturbing an early morning’s peace. I couldn’t always say this, but I like what I do, although what I do is an ever-changing, difficult-to-describe-succinctly, hodgepodge of creative assignments. However, I wouldn’t say I’m anywhere near content with what I do. I’m still figuring out what my freelance job description looks like, what I want it to look like, how to make it sustainable, how to force myself from bed in the morning, when to take breaks, and so on, and so on, and so forth. Suffice it to say, I’m prone to a rambling mind and stressing myself out, but there was Stuart Brown telling me to play more. He was practically prescribing play, and as the founder of the National Institute for Play, he knows a thing or two about the subject.
Brown’s research explains how play shapes our brains, creates our competencies, and ballasts our emotions. The benefits do not fade with age, but for some reason, as a society, we leave play behind us, along with our old dolls and missing puzzle pieces. However, if we look to the animal kingdom, we see animals engage in playful activities throughout their entire lives. Taking his message to heart, some friends and I decided to extend a brunch gathering and channel the classic childish Easter pastime: an Easter Egg Hunt! To celebrate the Urban Farmer’s progress, our egg hunt took place on his farm. Appropriately enough, he told our guests, “you’re the first friends to visit who I haven’t put to work!”
While Didi and Kara dispersed the bright, plastic eggs and their mystery contents in the farm’s nooks and crannies, the rest of us basked in the warmth of the hoop house. My playful pup couldn’t decide which forces to join, so she kept tabs on both the hiders and the seekers.
If you ever want to glimpse purpose and play colliding in one giant smile, you just have to watch Julep on the farm. It warms my heart every time I see her there. The freedom of the wide open space, the abundance of sticks to chew, the deer to chase, the seeds to protect… it fills her, and consequently me, with immense joy. She also offers me plenty of excuses to channel my inner child, so I’m assuming Stuart Brown’s research has an ode or two to our four-legged friends. Sometimes they even lead you to Easter eggs!
The term “Urban Farm” is no misnomer. The “urbanite” soil is still a work in progress, with plenty of real estate remnants in the mix, making for several egg hiding spots. As silly as it seemed, spotting those ill-fitting eggs was really fulfilling.
I may have become a little competitive as the eggs began to fill my seed tray.
We each were responsible to fill a few eggs. I’m not sure if this is a tradition, or if it’s a tradition Didi created, but the surprise element made the hunt all the more thrilling. I can’t say all the contents were With The Grains approved, but somebody got a little creative with jamming gas station delicacies into neon eggs.
Other goodies included my new squishy dinosaur friend and hand-dyed fabrics.
…and these crazy eyes! This is what happens when the Urban Farmer stares at a computer for too long…
The other quote to really hit me from Stuart Brown’s talk?
“You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.” Plato
I’m fortunate to have brunches that lead to Egg Hunts, the Urban Farmer, my playful pup, and friends with playful spirits and creative minds. As we hinge on spring and summer, let’s make lists of adventures, explorations and picnics galore! Those are the goals, so stay tuned for more ideas and more farm updates.