Why We Should Play With Fire


Some of my best memories of childhood involve playing with fire with my friend Erik.  We burned and melted anything we could get our hands on!  If we couldn’t get our hands on anything to burn, then we lit our hands on fire!  We would pour rubbing alcohol or aftershave on our hands, give the lighter a flick, and then watch our hands glow for a few seconds before we would smother the flames and laugh.  Years later, when we were in high school we were still at it.  We invented a game where we would soak a tennis ball in lighter fluid, set it on fire and play “hot potato” catch.  I could go on and on with stories of creative ways we played with fire but the point is, I enjoyed this activity when I was 8 and I still enjoy it today.

I was watching a TED talk the other day and saw a talk that Stuart Brown gave on the importance of play.  He starts out by weaving an incredible story and showing some amazing photographs of a Polar Bear and a Husky playing together in an improbable encounter where it looks like the dog is about to become a meal. But they start rough housing and having a grand time together instead.  He goes on to discuss how play is important in brain development, how a lack of play is a common component in some serial killers, how play deprived rats are less adaptable and how play seems to have a biological importance just like sleep!

The most interesting point for me as a 38 year old who still loves to play (not just with fire) is his point that humans are the most playful of all creatures, and that we need to continue to play throughout our life-spans and not just when we are young.  Finally some validation!!    We need to dance, create, imagine, rough house, laugh, and invent games.

Just because we are adults does that mean we can’t build a fort out of blankets and furniture in the living room?  Does it mean we can’t dig out our old set of Lincoln logs and create our dream house?  Does it mean that we need to respect the awesome power of fire, and not ever use it for whimsical purposes just to “see if it will burn”?  I say no!  I say we all take a moment today to play with fire.  If you have children, gather up some matches and share some good bonding time together!

If not fire, then at least crank up the volume on your favorite music, play some air guitar and sing into a hairbrush.  It is good for you!!!  What is your play?

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    • Cindy
    • February 9th, 2010

    Well said Tim. I am glad Adam shared this with me and I will certainly follow your posts. You’ve insipred me to go have a little fun with my boys tonight!

    • Cindy, Adam and I were playing with fire just about 3 months ago and it was awesome! For sure play with your boys tonight. I bet they would love to make a living room fort with you! Enjoy!

    • Lois
    • February 9th, 2010

    And, you guys lived to tell of it:)

    Play is SO important! 2PsNaPod “Day Care” is extremely hands on…play dough, cookies, Easter eggs, chocolate covered cherries, bubbles, mud pies, smell the roses, milk a cow, feed the sheep, roll in the grass, hold a worm. I’m not so much into playing with matches, though. But I like the idea of that being a bonding activity between parent and child:)

    • We did live with only minor injuries 🙂 Your family is good at playing at all ages!!

    • Erik
    • February 13th, 2010

    Hot Potatoe anyone? My play has changed a bit. I seem to have more respect for gravity, high speed collisions, inertia, mass and the like. But I would enjoy lighting a tennis ball on fire for old times sake!!!

    • Brado
    • February 23rd, 2010

    Remember the not so responsible fire in northern india with the seniors. now thats “playing with fire”.

    Awesome!

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