the game of love

by Bernard De Koven on March 22, 2012

Here‘s another inspiring observation from Good Clean Love Daily. Here again the author contemplates the love/play connection. And again she arrives at some shakingly profound truths.

Memories of childhood games on late summer evenings remind me of what the game of love once meant to us. As kids we understood that it was the play that mattered. Winning and losing reflected their respective original meanings, which were “to desire” and “to be set free.” Playing capture the flag in the dwindling light of the sky or a full neighborhood game of hide and seek was an apprenticeship in freedom. Pretending was rich with excitement, as we all shared in the wonder of not knowing the outcome. And yet we all knew that no victory was ever final, there was always tomorrow night.

Lovers in the past shared one secret; they knew that it wasn’t about winning or losing, it was the play that was essential. Playing allows us to experience freedom from duty and necessity. It is a primary condition of creativity and allows us the self-conscious delight of living out alternative realities. It is what makes us so deeply human.

Nowhere does this ring more true, than in our most intimate moments. Adding playfulness to sexual desire invites new friends into the bedroom: imagination and fantasy. Invite these allies to any passionate encounter with an openness to play, a willingness to pretend, and the freedom to live in the wonder of not knowing the outcome. Saying yes to this game of love keeps life fresh and while it offers no guarantees of long-term winning, it does promise to share glimpses of what we all desire most of the magical influence of love.

Rewarding our instinct to love creates the self-confidence to transform a private secret to a public force with the power to renew life and transmute human defects into loveable qualities. We are, after all, most loveable when we love. Playing this game doesn’t guarantee a life without bruises or the happily ever after story that we all long for. It will, however teach you about all the many ways you can love, and love again.

I have taken my usual italicizing liberties because I wanted to draw your attention to two of the many insights in this profound and insightful post.

The idea that the original concepts of winning and losing are “to desire” and “to be set free”  is, well, lovely. Wanting to win is all about wanting, because what you win, unless you’re playing professionally, is only a game. Losing, once you clear your emotional registers, is most definitely an experience of being set free from wanting.

And loving “wasn’t about winning or losing, it was the play that was essential.” 

Such true gifts, such deep discoveries – all in the name of love and fun.

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playful loving

by Bernard De Koven on March 21, 2012

I found the following in an article called “Playful Presence.”  The article comes from a site called Good Clean Love Daily. The site is for couples and all things related to coupling. It’s one of a number of sites that I have clicked my way through, and have made a habit of clicking through rapidly – because some of the contents might be considered NSFK (as in Not Safe for Kids). I feel it’s a bit prude-like of me to even make such a distinction. Loving fun, as I’ve written elsewhere, is loving. It’s an act of love that sustains and deepens our relationships with each other – with our partners, our children, our pets, our world. I have come to believe that any genuine act of love is fun of the deepest kind, and is as precious as play, as joy, as life itself.

Here’s what I wanted to share with you from the Good Clean Love Daily site. This should explain everything:

At its source, playfulness is a bi-product of being fully present. Bringing our full presence to any moment is where we can experience life spontaneously. And spontaneity is one of the main engines of play. It happens when we lose our propensity for judging the mishaps and the details of life. When we aren’t reacting to the details, life surprises you. Becoming more playful can be as simple as a shift in view- celebrating the ridiculous instead of getting mired in the annoying. Treating our own frailties to a little fun is where grace steps in to replace these as ready sources of shame or alienation.

Many wrongly think of play as a frivolous waste of time, when in actuality, playing creates new neural activity. Many studies show that it is during play where the greatest education occurs, which is why many of the most well-known scientists and spiritual leaders extol play as the source of their genius.

Shared humor is very different from sarcastic humor, which takes someone hostage. If one of you ends up feeling badly at the expense of someone’s joke, it isn’t funny. When playfulness is one-sided rather than mutual it is damaging to the relationship and undermines the trust you worked so hard to build. Just as no one wants to be the brunt of another’s hurtful joke, using humor to cover up other emotions that deserve a voice, backfires. Anger, fear and hurt feelings cannot be joked away. Instead they linger and slowly transform unexpressed emotions into the distance that keeps us apart. Don’t confuse these behaviors for playfulness; real play is always heart opening.

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Shakers and Shovers

January 25, 2012

Following the success of Toilet Paper Tug-of-War, I invented a more abstract version of the same basic theater game/exercise. This one more theatrical, but also focused on developing and sustaining a fragile relationship. There are two roles: Shaker and Shover. The Shaker is trying to get the Shover to shake hands. The Shover, to keep […]


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I enjoy myself enjoying the wind, the sun, the malted milk shake. I enjoy how I am, how I feel, how I act. I enjoy myself rapt, enraptured, wrapped in all of a moment’s glories. I enjoy how I am when I witness animals and children enjoying themselves, each other, the light, water. I enjoy […]



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fun makes you happy – who knew?

June 14, 2011

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A million ways to play checkers

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My fascination with the remarkably many different ways there are to play checkers took root almost four decades ago, when I was in Graterford prison (just visiting), teaching checkers to the inmates. So, when my remarkable friend, Dr. Bryan Alexander, wrote me about a site called Mindsports, wherein I found yet another collection of checkers games from around the […]