I do. All the bloody time. Head like a sieve.
But worse than just forgetting is when I get the dangerous idea in my head that play is not that important, that it’s a kind of luxury add-on, something I must earn the right to enjoy.
And I have a stupid little theory about it that doesn’t really go anywhere but it might amuse you on a Saturday afternoon.
They say our wonderfully unique human brains evolved over millions of years, and that whilst our environment has changed since we were cavemen, our actual hardware is pretty much the same. You’ll often hear it said that such-and-such characteristic is “a hangover from our cave-man days.”
Well, I don’t doubt all that. I don’t doubt that a lot of what we’re about is a hangover from thousands of years ago. We’re literally brilliant apes. But here’s something I haven’t found a decent explanation for. I have something living in my head that’s a hangover from times gone by. But it’s a far more recent hangover. This one’s not from thousands of years ago, but from more like a hundred.
It’s a Victorian school-master.
There’s a Victorian school-master living in my head. If I’m not careful, he takes over. If I don’t do something to stop him, this sub-Dickensian prick can ruin a day, a week, even a month.
He’s got all kinds of weapons – his strict, upper-class demeanour, for one – but he likes to take aim chiefly at the one he despises above all: “play.”
“Play is frivolous,” he says, cane in hand.
“Play is for the lower classes, the unwashed,” he says, his top-hat quivering as he approaches my desk.
“Play is lesiure, and leisure is not earnt until one has done their daily duty to God and to the Queen,” he says, rapping on my knuckles with his cane.
“And you boy, you certainly haven’t earnt it yet!”
Oh, fuck off, clean-shirt.
Nobody liked you back then, and nobody likes you now. You don’t have to take it out on me. I don’t want you. Get the fuck out of my head. I’m sick of you.
All you do is tell me that everything I like is bad for me. That if I question you, that if I don’t repent, that if I don’t submit, I’m going straight to hell. You go out of your way to make my life miserable. And for what? For my own good? So I’ll end up in your 19th century version of heaven?
Fuck your heaven. If it’s full of people like you, I’d rather be in hell.
Play is the very opposite of all the things my Victorian school-master claims it to be.
It is beneficial to the mind and the body. It is freely available to every demographic on the planet. It makes you nicer to be around. It makes you sleep better at night. It takes the weight of the world off your shoulders, even just for a moment.
Make time to play every day – you need it just like you need food and water. And if you don’t think you can spare the time – if you’ve let your Victorian school-master take over – then believe me, you really need it.