When I first met him, he and his wife Linda had a pizza and sub store in northeast Philly. Later, he not only helped me conceive of, develop, realize the Games Preserve, he lived there. He and his family with me and my mine. And we built together and grew together. And what we grew, grew into the Games Preserve. For ten years.
Then my family and I moved away from the farm, sold it, literally, to the person who sold Bill and family that same farm. And then Bill and family eventually built a hugely successful (ask anyone in Mertztown, PA) restaurant called “Snuzzles.” In the mean time, my family and I moved to the heart of Silicon actual Valley. And lo, it was the beginning of the 80s, and I was one with the very thin ranks of people who designed new play principles for computer games, designing games in 8K for Coleco and Atari and the PC. A world at least a way from the Games Preserve and Bill.
And one day, I think Rocky and I were on the front lawn of our Palo Alto house, Bill drives up, from, basically, nowhere, having crossed the bulk of our considerably bulky country, and he’s just there, with us, suddenly part of our lives again, unannounced, for no reason, not even to to be a walk away from Stanford Uni-can-you-imagine-versity. But just to hang around.
And when ever I asked him if there was anything he wanted to do or see or talk about, he’d say:
“I’m loose.” As in “Whatever.” As in “I’m here, ready to play, or not, with you…to be with you playing whatever we play together.” “Or not.”
And (is it already more than two years since he died?) I’m thinking about that particular flavor of fun he brought to our lives, teaching us what it “tastes” like to be “loose.”
In a way, in Bill’s way, to “be loose” is to be in a state of something like perpetual play, it’s the path itself, the playful one, the genuinely playful path that I have for so many years been teaching and learning.
“I’m loose,” he’d say. As if he were saying: “I’m that taste of fun that you get from being free, at no one’s beck or call other than whoever or whatever happens to beckon. I’m living that deeply freeing fun that comes with feeling free.”
Bill taught me this. Was this. A flavor of fun called “Loose.” The kind of fun that tastes like freedom.
And now, when I think of it, this idea of letting myself be “loose,” when I feel myself feeling the fun of feeling it, Bill is still with me even though he isn’t.
A playful path is the shortest road to happiness.
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