Tonight, I heard Dr. Stuart Brown talk about play: why we do it and why we need it. I’m trying to wrap my head around how it ties into J Week (the reason why Brown spoke at the university). What it comes down to is that play allows us to be creative, optimistic and, generally, happy. It’s exactly what the journalism field needs nowadays.
RSJ professor Rosemary McCarthy told me how in Brown’s book, he talks about the importance of understanding your play history. What did you do as child to entertain yourself? The answer to that leads to why you act the way you do as an adult.
So here I am on a Thursday night, sitting in the journalism school while others edit stories and write photos, contemplating my play.
I was an only child for the first six years of my life up in Tahoe, but I don’t remember being lonely. Both of my parents come from big families, so there were always cousins or friends’ children to play with. I had tons of toys (that’s right, typical spoiled little girl). I watched a lot of Disney and Muppet movies. I loved playing on the swing. I took ballet lessons. I went to a Montessori school (where children self-direct their own learning experience by exploring their environment).
When we moved to Vegas, I had a new baby brother and a cousin who lived a house away. The adventures began. We may have needed to stay inside because of the hot weather, but that didn’t deter us. We’d pretend we were in Street Fighter, or Mortal Kombat, or Hercules, and we’d make up our own story lines to each one. Example: I would be Chun-Li, my cousin was Ken and my little brother was Blanka. It was our mission to save the world.
Another example: I would play the Christmas soundtrack at full blast on my mother’s stereo, and then direct my cousin and brother in a show. If we had to act out this song, what would we do?
I was also the child who knew all the words to all the Beauty and the Beast and Anastasia songs. My parents made me sing on the karaoke machines. I loved being in my elementary school choir.
I had my quiet time, too. Something clicked in my brain in elementary school, and I became a giant bookworm. I was the kid who checked out 10 books at a time from the library, and would read them all before my mother took me again. I imagined that I was the one inside of all of these worlds, whether it was with Poppy as she explored her forest and took on the mean owl, or whether it was Harry Potter taking his first ride on the Hogwarts Express.
So what does this all mean?
Well, if you know me, you’ll realize that most of these things haven’t changed. I’m still kind of spoiled (if poor — it’s an odd combination). I still like to explore the world around me. I still dance, and I still come up with wacky ideas for games to play (though they more so involve building Peep battlefields than pretending I’m a video game character). I still sing and read all the time.
So generally speaking (and to tie it back to the beginning of this post), I’m happy, which equals that I’m a decent journalist.
I’m all for growing up and being responsible, but Stuart Brown put it best: “Play is an experience.”
It’s an experience that I love and that I refuse to forget.