I am very bad at playing. I don't mean I am a sore loser, or not fun to be around (I hope), but I do struggle to be lighthearted, to do things without worrying about consequences, or aiming for some sort of outcome. The proof of this is that I would like to improve my skills in playfulness. My aim is to become a capable player. 'Most valuable', if you will.
I recently found a photo of myself as a child playing in a cubby house that I made out of two chairs and a large blanket. I wonder what I was thinking back then, whether I had any sort of goal in mind, whether the play had a narrative arc, when it began and ended. It occurred to me that my ability to play must be related to the increasing need, as one gets older, for things to have a beginning and an ending: the increasing pressure on time, on outcomes and resolution. On not 'wasting time'. If capitalism is all about the acceleration of time, of the growth of expedient forms of labour and ways of 'making a living', then 'wasting time' is wasting money (though that phrase makes no sense, in that same way that 'wasting time' makes no sense, when you think about it). I think I am too poor to play, at the moment. It does not feel like a viable thing to do.
Boredom, on the other hand, I am familiar with. I am bored all the time. I am bored with what's on TV, with my hair, with my clothes, with politics, with writing, with art. Why is it so much easier to be bored than to be playful? Being bored is such a cheap rebellion. Perhaps it's tempting because it feels better to waste time and feel bad about it than to waste time and feel good about it. I notice, though, that my capacity for boredom increases as I think beyond the present moment: to hope for something that is not there, to wrongly perceive infinite unending stasis.
The dance artist Steve Paxton talks about the 'small dance', the endless falling and catching that happens in your body when you close your eyes, weight constantly shifting. You cannot be good at the small dance, which I think characterises playtime: it's something you can't be good at. This is what I'm reduced to as an adult: closing my eyes and falling and catching myself, just for a bit of playtime. Even though this feels tangentially playful, it does admit something, which is that I am nowhere near as rigid as I sometimes tell myself I am.