when i asked d for a summary of this children’s book he wrote and illustrated called PLAY TO PLAY he told me that the gorilla teaches the little girl the value of playing simply to play, not to win.
my son played tennis. after growing up playing competitive baseball and soccer he decided, as people who are gifted athletically can, to “take up” competitive tennis. he didn’t just go hit the ball around. he dove in. he was persistent and worked hard. i drove him to lessons, individual and group, to high school team practices, to tournaments. when he was in college i drove to his matches, regardless of where they were.
not familiar with the psychology of tennis, i, too, dove in, in my own way. i read articles and books, asked questions of his various coaches. an individual sport, tennis is a mind game and i needed to understand a little bit of what was going on inside my zealous son out on that lonely court. indeed, sometimes it was hard to watch, hardly breathing in the stands. when wendy wrote to me the other day that she just wanted her son’s hardworking football team to win and that she was unduly stressed, i could totally relate. it’s your heart out on that court, out on that field, out on that diamond. so much pressure.
a couple years ago we had the opportunity to once again see the boy play softball. on a league in boston, that team, and another he played on, traveled all over the place to play, including paris. they were all adults, all working hard and playing hard. the thing i loved most about watching him now was watching him laugh. laugh. teasing and laughter were a part of this ball-playing. they were playing to play. winning was a bonus – and they actually did that often – but playing seemed to be the point. it did my heart good.
we often forget the point of play. we often forget TO play. in days of great stress, days of worry and sorrow, play seems so far away. it seems unlikely and unworthy of our time. but i suppose it would do us all well to remember how invaluable to our well-being playing is. how giggling or fun and games, teasing and laughter make us feel. and how they do our heart good.
the illustrations in this little book are dear and the lesson important: just play to play.
PLAY TO PLAY ©️ 2006-2019 david robinson