Mark Rowland meditates on the well-lived life, arguing that it “is play, and not work, that gives value to our lives”:
It might be that most of the things we do in life we do for the sake of something else. But there are still some things we do just to do them — for their own sake and not for the sake of anything else. If the former category is work, then the latter category is play. Work is activity directed at an external goal. Play is activity whose goal is internal or intrinsic to it. In its pure form, play has no external purpose or reward. We play just to play. When my sons’ volleys have been sufficiently consistent and accurate, their tennis coach will instigate a game. He yells, ‘Fruit basket!’ and lobs several balls into the air in quick succession. They have to drop their rackets, run and catch the balls before they stop bouncing. This is done amid much cackling and squeals of delight on their part — almost as if the rest of their lesson was work aimed at unleashing this bout of play. I love watching this, because I cannot imagine a purer form of play. There is no external goal or purpose. My sons do it simply because at that precise moment in time — and the squeals of delight are testament to this — there is nothing in the world they would rather be doing.