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What Is Playing Life?

"It turns out that when we connect to play, we end up connecting with ourselves."

The Origins

Playing Life originates from a way of living that I have been experimenting with for about five years. You can call it a life philosophy, but it is closer to an exercise of exploration with a name that reminds me of what I aim to do.

The basis of Playing Life is that we all have a unique essence to express in the world. No two people are alike, and because of this, we all do things a little bit differently. The Celts called this "Awen", like a muse guiding us to our unique purpose and path in life. Each individual being like a note in the symphony of existence. This ties into the process of individuation we all go through as humans:

"Individuation is the process of self-realization, the means by which one finds oneself and becomes who one really is."
- Carl G. Jung

Around five years ago, in 2018, I was inspired to explore how play could add value to my life. I always had an appetite for life, but after ten years of working different jobs and doing what was "necessary" to make ends meet, I had become disconnected from my playful nature and started feeling numb. I somehow discovered that integrating play into my workout sessions made things a lot more engaging for me and it led to a complete turnaround in my attitude about working out. I fully connected to my body and fell in love with movement as a result. Inspired by my experience, I moved on to other areas of my life to see if play could apply there as well. I had become allergic to reading after forcing myself to read books I thought I ought to read. Every time I picked up a book, I became tense and I felt nauseous. That completely changed when I began looking at things through the lens of playfulness. I wanted to see what would happen if I only picked up books on topics I was genuinely interested in, the ones that stimulated my playful curiosity about life. So I did, and discovered a new found love for reading, just like when I was young and could go through an entire book in a day. It felt fun again and I felt more confident that when I picked up a book, it was for the right reasons.

Play As A Way To Find Our Personal Path

With practice, I began to see play as a great way to honor my Awen, my unique essence. Play has a magical element to it, I have learned. It cannot be cheated. You cannot enter a real state of play without doing something that you find personally appealing or engaging. It has to connect to something genuine inside of you, or it's not playful. You can physically play a game and not be interested in it, but you cannot experience a true playfulness without a match in your unique energy or curiosity. After a while, I grew curious to see how play would impact the various areas of my life, so I put it to the test against increasingly more complex situations. Could this apply to my relationships as well? What about my finances? My vocation? Can I use it to find more meaning in my spiritual life? And that's when the BIG question arose:

Can I simply play LIFE?

Was it possible that play could be used as a guiding force to increase my degree of personal alignment across the board? My heart was convinced that it was worth exploring. So I did exactly that. In the last five years, I have used play strategically to detect where my heart wants to be in all areas of my life. It led me to discover a great deal of things about myself and allowed me to shape my life in a way that is authentic to me. Because that's what matters at the end of the day. It doesn't matter how many people agree or disagree with how you life your life. What matters is that you recognize yourself in your life decisions, that you express your unique essence in a way that is supportive of the personal adventure you want to live. You can't live someone else's adventure better than you could live your own. The Universe has created you to be a unique expression that no one else can be but you. Playing Life is about discovering what it means to be that person, and what it takes to affirm our truth into the world. It has been my experience that when you get close to being who you were meant to be, things start to become fun, and if you look around, you'll see that playful energy not too far from you. To me, play is a great guide and it continues to deliver on its promise. That's what motivates me to make this "practice" accessible to all.

As I alluded to in the beginning, playing life is an exploration. It is an open-ended question that is meant to be tested as it seems fit for you. There is no commandments to follow. No spiritual group to join. I do not own anything in regard to what it means, aside from my own interpretation, writings and stories. It is a tool that life produced and I have found it to be especially useful in areas we don't normally associate with play and I want to talk about its effects. In my experience, the power of play is nearly infinite. It is a mysterious force/teacher that has applications in many realms of life, and I'm excited for you to discover what it can do for you, or what you could do for the world with it.

What I have found most useful in my quest of individuation (or as I like to call it, crafting my personal life adventure) is becoming more familiar with the demands of what I am going through at the various stages of my life. Ready-made answers or solutions that ask you to follow a strict step-by-step process don't resonate well with me. There is a place and a time for them, but I feel like when it comes to discovering who I am, guided exploration is more fitting in helping me find myself and play is a big part of that. It turns out that when we connect to play, we end up connecting with ourselves.

And so I dedicate this platform to sharing stories of individuation and making available the tools I have collected along my journey that have been valuable for me to help you become more familiar with what it means to live your personal adventure. You may use or discard any of them at will. We are all different, but I feel the simple act of sharing our experience with one another is very helpful in finding the confidence to live our authentic lives.

Feel free to share your own story, tools and discoveries in the comments of any post and leave your suggestions if you have feedback that can help me build a platform that is more fun for us to use.


- Ismaël Gauthier

1 - The Druid Path, John Michael Greer, P. 53.


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