My friend Sam was having a great time in the Chilmark 5K Road Race. You might not guess by looking at him, but he's 81.
This lazy summer, I'm reading Play: How It Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul by Stuart Brown, MD. It's a little pop-psyche-ish for my tastes, but there's something to it.
Brown describes learning from scientists who study animals just what the evolutionary function of seemingly frivolous play might be:
That is, we need flexibility and imagination to thrive; play teaches us to surmount the unexpected. Brown is convinced our need for this stimulus never stops:
I like that. I don't mean I want to some rigid program that requires me to "play" for my own good -- but I sure want to keep a spirit of experimental delight alive in my life, always.
A Japanese reader came back at him, arguing that the present more comfortable country had perhaps chosen a better path.
This writer says nothing about economic inequality in Japan, a real problem not likely to be addressed by complacency.
But could it be that a rich nation could learn to enjoy what it has -- perhaps to make time for play? Obviously this doesn't work if your aspiration is to be top empire. But if your aspiration is simply to live, it seems more than adequate, in fact the essence of thriving.