Be Ludic

LudicNate_0001ludic (adjective): (Of play) spontaneous and without purpose; (of behavior) undirected and spontaneously playful.

I need the occasional ludic break to get through the day.

Ludic is running through the park with a young son. Ludic is playing tug-of-war with the dog. Ludic is arranging blueberries on the rim of my plate; it’s humming or drumming or strumming when my face is about to smile; it’s playing peek-a-boo with a child on a plane. Ludic is making a flower arrangement with weeds and then organizing the books on my shelf by the color of their spines. It’s rooting for a fluffy cloud to rise-rise-rise before its vapors disappear. It’s hopscotching the internet to see Instagram photos. And it’s any of these activities and anything else playful–as long as I don’t feel guilty, competitive, or goal-oriented about it.

Because ludic is guiltless and goalless. Ludic doesn’t push the corners of the mouth down like ludicrous, or imply a passive state like happy or joyous. Ludic is goofy without the embarrassment, capricious without the volatility, lively without the forced energy, and frisky without the careless harm.

I need the occasional ludic break to survive.

Because I live with day-to-day responsibilities: responsible consumption, responsible social activism, responsible care of self and others, responsible stewardship, and responsible responses to dark world events and trends.  Responsibilities exact actions which exact decisions which require tradeoffs–which can consume me.

Fulfillment of responsibilities gives me pride, connections, capabilities, and understanding. And fulfillment of responsibilities helps the major systems, of which I am a part, keep their tenuous order, which is needed for today and for the future. But because the fulfillment of responsibilities is needed for the future, if I fall down on the job, I lose claim to optimism–and without optimism, I cannot survive.

Responsibilities, though necessary, can be kill-joys. All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy. There’s no rest for the weary. We’re sick and sore. We’re held accountable. We’re duty bound.

The ludic state is an antidote to the kill-joys. The ludic state is a “create-joy.”  Being ludic lubricates my moods, lightens the loads of daily living.  Ludic a day lifts some burden away.

Let’s hear it for being ludic.

Definition from the Shorter Oxford English Dictionary, 6th Edition 2007.

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