We don’t always experience ourselves as alive and we don’t always appreciate the life in others. In fact, days can go by in which our lives feel deadened, closed-off and empty. Luckily, there is a very human process that brings us to life and opens us to others, one in which psychedelics can aid us, but which actually needs no substance to ignite. This practice has been performed by our species ever since we first painted the walls of caves. In fact, it is central to our humanity and something that we’ve been practicing for a very long time.
Think of a child playing with her toys and you’ll see just how serious this business of play is. While playing, a child becomes enrapt in her senses, focused, and “in flow,” all the while animating her toys, taking what is wooden and bringing it to life. She also feels deeply connected to the toy. The same is true in all kinds of adult encounters too: in good conversations, in collaborative work, cultural pursuits, art-making, lovemaking, and just plain making, play brings us closer to ourselves and to others.
Play is the marrow of compassion, an essential element of cooperation and innovation, and it’s what we are doing when we contemplate. To play is to be liberated. In this, it’s a whole lot more than “fun.”