Freedom and Playfulness

Here, for your further delectation, another insight from the ever insightful Gwen Gordon – this one from her paper Integral Play, an Exploration of the Playground and the Evolution of the Player, by Gwen Gordon and Sean Esbjörn-Hargens

“We certainly know positive forms of playfulness when we see them—a lightness of heart, a glint in the eye, alertness, enthusiasm, and readiness for surprise. There is a sense of involvement and detachment, self-expression and self-transcendence, individuality and cooperation. Boundaries become fluid, defenses dissolve, and physical, emotional, or mental movements become spontaneous, expanded, and well-coordinated. The considerable research on playfulness tells us that the traits of the playful include physical, cognitive, and social spontaneity, manifest joy, and a sense of humor. Playfulness carries the presence, flexibility, and openness needed to improvise with and expand the stream of possibilities as they emerge in each moment.

“Freedom is a hallmark of play. While the concept of freedom has a divergent and contradictory philosophical history, it remains a condition for play. As boundaries soften, not only does adaptive variability and potentiation increase, but the parts of the player become coordinated into spontaneous action. The autonomy of the parts is balanced by their integration with the play community. Playfulness entails spontaneous, free, and harmonious movement within and among the parts of the player, whether the player is a chimpanzee, an amoeba, or a symphony orchestra. For ‘higher animals,’ playfulness entails spontaneous, free movement within and among the parts of the self. It is the freedom of the total self to move as a whole in relationship to the total environment.”

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