Talk to Me…

How Did You Play?

When Stuart Brown, author of Play, How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination and Invigorates the Soul, was asked:  How can a review of one’s own life history of their play be helpful, he responded:

“If adults can begin to reminisce about their happiest and most memorable moments, they can capture the emotion and visual memories of those moments and begin to connect again to what truly excites them in life. Generally, a person’s purest emotional profile—temperament, talents, passions– is reflected in positive play experiences from childhood. If you can understand your own emotional profile when it was in its purest form, you can begin to apply it to your adult life. Going through this process may encourage someone to give serious consideration to shifting to another job that may bring them more joy, or to infuse their current life with those elements that once brought them enlivenment but may have been left behind as they conformed to cultural stereotypes of success.”

Please click the link below to share your play history.

When you were growing up, how did you play? When you came home from school and weren’t doing homework, what did you enjoy doing? On Saturday when you had free time, what did you do? How did you play when you played alone? How did you play with others?

23 thoughts on “Talk to Me…

  1. George Dyson sent me the following story this morning:

    Julian Himely Bigelow, fourth of five siblings, was born on 19 March 1913 in Nutley, New Jersey–42 miles from Princeton. At the age of three, while staying with an aunt, “he found a screw driver, and removed all the door knobs and put them in a big pile, and it took him a really long time to put all these door knobs back.”

  2. Dear Linda

    I would really like to connect with you in connection with your article on email apnea and breathing. I have a breathing solution that is profound and was wondering if you would like to experience it


  3. Hi Linda,
    It has been a couple of months since we met on the flight from NY and I dropped something on you. I truly appreciated our conversation and I really think there was a reason for our meeting. It has taken me a while but I just broke up with my girl friend, which has really helped my stress. Our conversation gave me that extra strength needed to choose me and my health and peace over anything else. I hope we can further our conversation sometime soon.
    Thank you so much.

  4. Hi Linda,

    I am writing a book about about changes in higher education due to technological changes and other forces (for Stylus Publishing). I wondered if I could quote you on continuous partial attention. Specifically this from your website:

    “Continuous partial attention describes how many of us use our attention today. It is different from multi-tasking. The two are differentiated by the impulse that motivates them. When we multi-task, we are motivated by a desire to be more productive and more efficient. We’re often doing things that are automatic, that require very little cognitive processing. We give the same priority to much of what we do when we multi-task — we file and copy papers, talk on the phone, eat lunch — we get as many things done at one time as we possibly can in order to make more time for ourselves and in order to be more efficient and more productive. To pay continuous partial attention is to pay partial attention — CONTINUOUSLY. It is motivated by a desire to be a LIVE node on the network. Another way of saying this is that we want to connect and be connected. We want to effectively scan for opportunity and optimize for the best opportunities, activities, and contacts, in any given moment. To be busy, to be connected, is to be alive, to be recognized, and to matter. We pay continuous partial attention in an effort NOT TO MISS ANYTHING. It is an always-on, anywhere, anytime, anyplace behavior that involves an artificial sense of constant crisis. We are always in high alert when we pay continuous partial attention. This artificial sense of constant crisis is more typical of continuous partial attention than it is of multi-tasking.”

    I would of course give you full credit and provide a link to your site. I think your ideas are important to the higher education community and want to be sure your message gets to them.

    Best Regards,

    Professor Roger McHaney
    University Distinguished Teaching Scholar
    Kansas State University

  5. As young kids, several boys including my brother and me and other kids from our neighborhood, played two kinds of games. First were regular sports games: baseball football etc; second were made up war games in the the woods behind our house. We were profoundly influenced by the television show Combat, and would each take roles from that show and divide up into armies, or sometimes not bother to divide and just attack an invisible enemy.

    As I got a bit older, all of my playing was about music, almost all my friends from adolescence are musicians and many of them are still friends. It was creative, participatory, and had great qualities of being both collaborative and competitive.

    Great to meet you this past wkend, you were a gracious introducer for this foo neophyte. stay in touch!

  6. My early adolescence was experienced in a Canadian tenement. When not getting shooed away from the affluent park across the street, we played at Star Trek, each assuming a persona while mixing our slowly thawing freezes into a different spectrum of color before slowly relishing them. On Christmas morning my father had arranged the entire living room area into a battlefield, the two inch off-yellow and green troops poised to engage upon our arrival. In the Winter, much of our time was spent outdoors, building snow figures, makeshift igloos, or shoveling snow in the local field to skate.

    Most of my memories are communal. It wasn’t until the my teens that I randomly discovered Kerouac and began traveling both intellectually and physically (read: hitchhiking with an obscenely large cardboard thumb across several countries). – am laughing to think about this now…

  7. I was a child of the 70’s and my play was the imitation of my favorite TN shows: Star Trek and Man from UNCLE. I was always Kirk or Solo. As I got older, I began to feel more comfortable as Spock or Kuryakin. Today I often cast myself as a first officer rather than commander. I’ll help with just about anything, but I get really weary of being in charge.

    I am a teacher, and I think your CPA idea is great. I’ll be mentioning you in my blog .

  8. How Fun! I never thought about this connection between play and professional work. When I was a child I played al movement, physical games, perhaps for this reason I was alway sent to the garden. Then I remember doing experiments with colored plants to see what color came out when you pressed them and even froze them. I guess know I understand why I have never been able to keep an office job! I’ll have to buy the book!

  9. linda it is lovely to wander into your virtual vale here — i am noting the yosemite-like background now bordering this screen — and get to meditate with you about childhood joys. one of them still surrounds me today, which is the collecting of a plethora of furry pack mates whom we squish with love and play until their rescue-background aggressions recede into a distant space, called upon only in real need. Favorite activities were to sit on a skateboard when they were a new fad and zoom down sidewalks and sometimes streets in the subdivision by our house, which was sleepy all day until the daddies came home at dusk. i loved collecting small things in my woods wandering and making them into something. Baby snakes could be worn as a ring to scare my phobic mom. small pine cones became owls and porcupines with the proper application of pine needles, small seeds for eyes, feathers for wings, tiny twigs for legs and feet. Old impossible wooden 1920’s jigsaw puzzles with Mom. And baking. Always baking.

  10. Hi Linda,

    I was wondering around the TED site, plying some intent but little focus. Currently searching for partners in a new opportunity in social networking. My background is more in performance narrative.

    Anyway this meandering lead me to your door. I would love to discuss my idea with you. I think it lends well into your expertise.

    After reading your thoughts on ‘continuos partial attention’, I thought I’d share the following with you first. I’ve edited down articles for convenience. Science is so clever. It can now measure what us storytellers have known forever. Enjoy:

    Contemporary neuroscience has brought us much closer to understanding the neural basis for emotion sharing abilities – the mechanisms underlying empathy. Knowledge of the relation of empathy and narrative are hardly new. Storytellers around the first stone aged campfires inherently knew this.

    Now, however mirror neurons in the brain can be recorded as we witness another’s emotional reactions. This newly enabled capacity to study empathy at the cellular level encourages speculation about human empathy’s positive consequences.

    For the first time we can investigate whether differences in mirror neuron activity is altered by exposure to art, teaching and literature. Neuroscientists have already declared that people scoring high on empathy tests have especially busy mirror neuron systems in their brains. Fiction writers are likely to be among these high empathy individuals.

    Raymond Mar, a psychology at the University of Toronto, shows that exposure to narrative fiction is positively associated with improved social abilities. He concludes, “Stories could prove a powerful tool for educating both children and adults about understanding others, an important skill currently under-stressed in most educational settings.”

    “Emotional contagion comes into play in our reactions to narrative, for we are also story-sharing creatures. The oral storyteller not only takes advantage of our tendency to share feelings socially by doing the voices and facial expressions of characters, but also tacitly trains young children and members of the wider social group to recognize and give priority to culturally valued emotional states.”
    (“Journal of Research in Personality” Oct 2006: 694-712)



  11. Dear Linda,

    Regarding not breathing – maybe you’ve wrote/covered/realised this already – but the non-breath happens, I believe, because the computer has so much potential, and yet equally so many flaws.

    The thought that came to me, is the crouching tiger/lion, whatever – do they breath, as their victim grazes, unaware of the encroaching danger?

    Probably not – they save their energy, they stay as quiet as possible, waiting to pounce & get their reward.

    The trouble is, many of us, sit couching all day, being distracted by the grass in front of us, than by the goal over yonder field.

    Or, perhaps rather, we’re looking at both.

    We’re trying to splodge through a lot of mud, to get to our target, getting concerned, distracted, perhaps by a thousand other outstanding targets..

    It’s like the computer holds unto us, hundreds if not literally MILLIONS of miracles, and, even with GTD, we still never quite reach that destination.

    Perhaps that’s partly true of life in general – but so much anxiety/energy can be pent up, focusing, in one place, for hours on end, on a set of outstanding miracles, that don’t stop coming..

    Perhaps it’s the fact that we can have a million cakes and eat them on the computer.

    We don’t breath, because in nature, we’d need to save that energy, quiet that noise not to scare the prey, and focus all our attention on that prey in front of us.

    GTD, might actually make it worse, if you’re using computers for the system..?

    Certainly, the isolation people feel these days, working from home/being restricted from social dialogue in offices, drives people to make connections on the internet.

    In my humble opinion, deep inside, we driven by social means.

    One way or another, the less we’re rewarded socially for what we do/contribute too, the more we want to be recognised/respected.

    The internet permits just about any flight of fancy we wish, regardless of whether it’s right or wrong.

    Hence, we behold the possibilities, without breathing, without permission – or perhaps just seemingly without possibility; a bad paradigm – we crouch, in anticipation!

    Anticipation leads to anxiety – anxiety to depression.

    Anticipation is fine, if the technology in which we come to trust, delivers.

    If not, we feel let down by it, and it’s creators.

    Our natural instincts put us back in the positive seat.. until it doesn’t.

    Or perhaps I’m just talking from my own perspective..

    Anyway – I argue anticipation = no breath.

    The crouching tiger, that clumsiliy gets distracted, focused, distracted, stuck in mud, bumps its head, catches its prey, misses its prey, bumps its head again.. stumbling towards..?

  12. Driven by social ends rather – and regarding gtd, I add – it’s amazing, but the above might apply if we’re learning GTD/haven’t mastered it/ourselves yet..

  13. Hi Linda, My book, The New Digital Shoreline is published and I wanted to send you a copy for the contributions you provided. Please let me know where to send it for you! Best, Professor Roger McHaney, Kansas State University

  14. Linda – How do you keep track of what you write about..

    I mean, I tend to write lots of interesting insights/things I believe are real, but I never feel I chance to ‘index’ them..

    I want to be able to find them again/I like to be prompted the old fashioned way, in a book, rather than a search too..

    In other words, I prefer writing in some ways, because you can stick fingers in pages, and if you’ve got a contents page at the back of a book say, then you can easily trip over other relatable pages to the one you’re specifically trying to find..

    I’ve never been much of an academic, but I hate writing stuff down – some philosophy, idea, quote, and then not being able to connect it to anything bigger..

    I usually get interesting insights, but, because of the nature of my work, I don’t get chance to remember it, when I really it’s important TOO remember it..

    I don’t know.

    I get rathe stressed and anxious very easily – but as David Allen might say, it’s good not to have the same thought twice, and to do something about it is even better..

    I guess if I process my idea’s, from a journal, that might help!

    Before I’ve just written stuff and forgot about it..

    But even then – there’s still reference material created..

    Do you know what I mean?

    Stressed out, over thinking, perhaps depressed as a consequence of stress, and thus also forgetful, Chris.

    All the best… C:

  15. Hi Linda,
    I’d love to be a guinea pig for you if you ever need to do some experimenting with high school students. I teach in West Orange, NJ (primarily juniors and seniors) and I first became aware of your work on CPA while creating a presentation for my public speaking class.

    I teach A.P. literature, public speaking and broadcast journalism and in this array of classes I deal with a wide range of student behaviors from highly focused and motivated kids to those who are disengaged and near-addicted to their cell phones. I notice there is a very high correlation between those who do poorly in school and those who will fight you for their cell phone (literally) – who MUST hold it in their hand. I’m fascinated with your website and your ideas. I’ve just read the Kaiser report on media usage in 8-18 year olds and I feel like I am seeing, with every year of teaching, a greater dependency on the cell phone, along with a of change in the wiring, the capacity to focus in not only my high school students, but also young teachers. It’s like the cell phone has become their lover.

    I am a teacher who incorporates a GREAT deal of technology in my teaching, so I am trying to work with the reality of my students. I’m not an old fart “ban all the cellphones” kind of teacher by any means. But I feel like I’m seeing trends that I’d love to discuss more with you.

    Regarding PLAY (fascinating ideas/questions you forward) one of the trends I find most interesting is that play is moving from imaginative and unstructured play with manipulatives, to finger games on devices — at earlier and earlier ages. I am going to start asking about “play” …
    I loved playing with dolls, enacting all sorts of scenarios with a variety of voices, way past the point when most people stop playing with dolls. Like, well into my teens. I loved watching old black and white movies. And I loved being involved in cooking.

    Hope we can communicate!
    Tynia Thomassie
    West Orange NJ

  16. Just wondering of you’ve looked into whether the mysterious RLS (restless leg syndrome) is related to email apnea?!

    I have it – seems to make sense.

    Legs need oxygen, lack of exercise, funny tingly sensations..

    Hope you’re keeping well!

  17. Hi Linda,

    Your thoughts have been an inspiration to something I’ve been working on. I’ve started a company, and have built a service, that allows us to draw digital boundaries in our physical/digital life so that we can stay more focused on the here and now. I’d be grateful to hear your feedback when you’ve got some time… Thanks, — Arnon

  18. I think I’m the silliest person reading your site, because I have no research happening (unless you count trying to figure out why Lego sets get the best of me), I am not an intellectual (I know it was never a question), and for the life of me I can’t figure out why people are commenting on sleep apnea on a post about “play”.
    Anyhoo – how did I play? I played clean. Dirt? Climbing trees? Riding bikes? No thank ya. I stayed inside playing teacher or chef (btw, this was before The Food Network so I consider myself a trend setter). I loved pretending I was famous. I’d pack bags, get dressed up to board planes, etc. I had friends, but my parents were immigrants and could not get the “playdate” concept.

    Should I be committed? Oh wait, I work for Bank of America – I’m already in the Asylum.

  19. Hi Linda,
    I am doing research for a book being written to help professionals (specifically senior leadership and executives) with lean communications. The early part of the book focuses on how information overload and inattention are effecting how executives and professional communicate. I would love the opportunity to interview you for the book. Would you be interested?

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