Called to Play/Work
Work without play doesn’t really work.
When we see an innovation in science, we often assume this was the result of much hard work. The person must have burned the midnight oil while toiling away in the lab.
When you dig deeper and see what led to many breakthroughs, however, it doesn't always look like work.
Matt Ridley writes:
Innovators who just like playing around are more likely to find something unexpected. Alexander Fleming said: "I like to play with microbes." James Watson, co-discoverer of the double helix, described his work with models as "play." Andrew Geim, the inventor of graphene, said: "a playful attitude has always been the hallmark of my research."
Productive work isn't necessarily hard work. It often feels like play.
This playful approach is not just for scientists. It's also relevant to the spiritual life.
Some years back, I stumbled upon an essay that changed how I looked at the saints. The author argues that while we often talk about the difficulties that many of the saints endured, that wasn't their focus. He writes:
When we read the lives of the saints we admire their peace and joy in the midst of sufferings which make us blanch. But they did not see it that way. They were having a ball.
The torture and shipwrecks and goodbyes experienced by the missionaries and martyrs were real, but so was the adventure of playing a role in a bigger story.
There are some things that we need to take care of, whether we feel like it or not. We may not be able to turn all our responsibilities into a game.
Still, kids don't have to have all the fun. We have work to do, but we can also play. It may even lead to some of our best work.
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