B: I believe that all the things we do in life can be divided into three categories: work, play, and what I call “work that is play.” The things that we don’t want to do, but we end up doing anyway, perhaps because they often consist of the tedious, menial, but usually necessary tasks of life, we would call “work.” Then there are things that we want to do, but that we don’t really “need” to do – that is, things that don’t help us accomplish our various life goals, help our characters progress in some way (spiritual, mental, physical, etc.), or “help us along in life” – in short, they have no real redeeming value: these things we would call “play.” The remaining things, which are things that we want to do, and are also things that we might say we need to do, I would call “work that is play.” They are work because they have redeeming value, and they are play because they are things we want to do. I guess you could call it “play that is work,” if you prefer, but that seems to put a damper on it, if you ask me – though I suppose it depends on how you look at it.
A (fully bewildered): Huh?
B: Work: things we don’t want to do. Play: things we want to do and don’t do us any good. Work that is Play: things we want to do and do us good. Got it?
B: Great. Now it’s not my intent here to enumerate all the things that fall into each category. Since the definitions include the word “want,” the lists of things belonging to each category are going to be different for each person anyway. Furthermore, these lists are not static: an activity may jump categories from time to time. Sometimes you find happiness in doing the menial things in life, so that whereas they are usually seen simply as “work,” in such times they are actually “work that is play.” Or there may be times where you find yourself having no fun doing some activity from which you usually derive pleasure, in which case “play” has become “work.”
Generally, I see “play” as consisting of our vices, such as indulgence in alcohol, tobacco, illicit drugs, gambling, sexual immorality and pornography, excessive TV or media usage (including video games and cell phones), etc. Notice the qualifiers on those things: indulgence in sex, for instance, is fine as long as it’s not immoral, because sexual immorality really has no redeeming value – or at least, my belief is that when it’s immoral, it does less good than it does bad. Also, media usage is fine at times, of course, but just about everybody knows that there’s such a thing as “too much;” hence it is counted as a vice when the modifier “excessive” is present.
A: Who cares?
B: About what?
A: About these silly categories?
B: Well, the reason I bring them up, is that by exercising self-control, I believe we can get to the point where the only things we ever do fall in the “work that is play” category, which is clearly the best category to be in: not only are you enjoying yourself, but you’re also not wasting time because you’re doing a bunch of good things.
A: And just how would we get to that point, buddy?
B: You have to somehow swallow up the “work” and “play” categories with the “work that is play” category, by eliminating the most unnecessary “play” items, and enjoying the “work” items we usually think of as drudgery. Some might call this finding “joy in the journey.” It’s not easy, of course – doesn’t seem like anything worth doing in life is – but with some due diligence, I think it can be done, or at least approached.
We do the “play” things because we like them, and they typically relieve stress. That job may be taken care of by some of the “work that is play” stuff. We do the “work” things pretty much because we have to. It may help to remember to think why we do those things, so that we can look forward to the results of those labors (and find “joy in the journey”). We may also find that some of these things are also unnecessary, and that we don’t have to burden ourselves with them.
If we can have enough control over ourselves, we may get to the point where everything we do fits in the “work that is play” category, and just imagine what a joyful existence that would be: all we ever do are things that help ourselves and others be happy and attain our goals, and we’re happy doing it besides.