Tuesday, August 24, 2010

Chesterton on Toys And Playing

"There is only one reason why all grown-up people do not play with toys: and it is a fair reason. The reason is that playing with toys takes so very much more time and trouble than anything else. Playing, as children mean playing, is the most serious thing in the world. And as soon as we have small duties or small sorrows we have to abandon to some extent so enormous and ambitious a plan of life. We have enough strength for politics and commerce and art and philosophy: we do not have enough strength for play. This is the truth which everyone will recognize who, as a child, has ever played with anything at all; anyone who has played with bricks, anyone who has played with dolls, anyone who has played with tin soldiers. My journalistic work, which earns money, is not pursued with such awful persistency as that work which earned nothing."

"Broadly then, what keeps adults from joining in children's games is, generally speaking, not that they have no pleasure in them; it is simply that they have no leisure for them. It is that they cannot afford the expenditure of toil and time and consideration of so grand and grave a scheme. I have been myself attempting for some time past to complete a play in a small toy theatre ...though I have worked much harder at the toy theatre than I ever worked on any tale or article, I cannot finish it; the work seems too heavy for me. I have to break off and betake myself to lighter employments; such as [writing] the biographies of great men."

"All this gives me a feeling touching the real meaning of immortality. In this world we cannot have pure pleasure. This is partly because pure pleasure would be dangerous to us and to our neighbors. But it is partly because pure pleasure is a great deal too much trouble. If I am ever in any other and better world, I hope that I shall have enough time to play with nothing but toy theatres; and I hope that I shall have enough divine and superhuman energy to act at least one play in them without a hitch."

--from "The Toy Theatre," in Tremendous Trifles (1909), by G. K. Chesterton.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Gosh, that is so true, and so obvious, and yet I never really thought of it that way. I wondered why one day (granted a much later day than most people have) I just couldn't play like I used to. I always depressingly chalked it up to "growing up" and yet I knew that I was far from "mature". That's it- Laziness. The answer to just about ever "why don't I" or "why can't I" question I have when regarding my life.