Tuesday, 2 March 2010

Work and Play

The number of times in my life that I have been told,” All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy.” Maybe this is because for the biggest part of my life since leaving school I took little time to play, it was all work. For the first five years of my ministry I hardly ever took a holiday and if I did, much against the wishes of my family, I was always available to return to conduct a funeral. It is equally true that we cannot on the other hand have all play and no work. There has to be the discipline of toil but there has to be room for play. Fun and play are an important aspect of our lives. It can be claimed that it is through play that we open ourselves to the wonderful moments that come to us when we have “switched off.” My friends have always been amused when I tell them that I do all my best thinking in the bath, in fact I used to “write” all my sermons in the bath. I was always amazed that they found this so amusing; after all Archimedes had his “Eureka” moment in his bath, a moment that had long lasting effects on us all. Many of the momentous moments of history have happened to people when they were relaxed and at play.

I know so many people who eat and sleep their work. They have a dedication and are probably very good employees, and good at the occupation they have chosen. Sadly they tend to be people who are less than stimulating conversationalists or people who never set you afire with great emotion.

There are artists. I have met some, who have given all to their art, every minute of every day. They paint or think paint seven days a week. Yet if you take time to read the life stories of the “greats of art,” you will very quickly notice that their lives were full of play and intrigue. So often their best art was very closely linked to those moments of life where they were enjoying life to the full. One example, Edgar Degas, he had a great love of ballet and this love led to some of his best works. It could never be argued that he only loved ballet because it stimulating his art.

Those who follow the Tao know the need to also be participants in play. To be ,”good” to be “great” to be “inspiring” we have to be prepared to leave the borders, to step over the line of work into the world of play. We all have those things in life we consider “crucial” and “important.” It may be though that if we wish to touch the heights of our creative spirit we need to learn how to “play” and so experience Tao without having to “work at it.”


  1. Indeed. Well said Ralph.

  2. Hi Ralph, I am alive and it is a great day! Did you know that Agatha Christie wrote her mysteries in the bath? I alway begin my day in a bath; I am lucky to have a 6' cast iron bath tub well over one hundred years old! I always begin my day there and think through everything I am grateful for, and often this is a huge list!
    I am "retired" now and all I do is play. To some it may appear as work, but truely it is not.
    There is a time for everything! My time to play.

  3. Your play Jerry produces such beauty and it comes from years of work. You have trully managed to find that balance between work and play. I am sure that the art you produce has come to you in those moments of contemplation.