deep summer & why you need more purposeless play in your life

A few years ago I pulled this quote from a magazine and it’s been hanging near my computer ever since.


You’ll notice I pulled a little haphazardly and the L is missing from Laziness. That doesn’t mean that I’m not up for some good old-fashioned (or new-fashioned) summer laziness, though.

But there’s more than laziness that I find compelling in Sam Keen’s words.

I mean, just the phrase deep summer cuts right to my core. Makes sense, considering that living deep is a big part of my life and work.

I’m also pretty sure these words point to a deeper truth: summer is one of those rare times when we give ourselves permission to dial back the striving so we can give ourselves over to play.

Yes, summer is a time when it’s okay to play with abandon, without agenda or ambition.

Now this is big. Really BIG. I’ve met very few adults who think they get enough play in their lives.

Real play. True play. Deep Play.

Play that has no purpose attached to it.

Too often, in our attempts to lead meaningful, purpose-driven lives, we forget how important purposelessness is.

I first got wise to purposeless play back in 2010. I discovered a severe yearning for it, like it was a nutrient my body needed if I wanted to see the full spectrum of life and color. Oh, I could kind of get by without it, but only if I was willing to limit myself to muddy hues and unfulfilled longings.

Although it’s still a challenge for me, I’ve come a long way since then. And this summer I’m absolutely determined to weave purposeless play into each day. I’ll be prepping for a big test (the National Counselor Exam) and I’ll need the play to balance out all that studying.

So if I were Queen of the World this would be one of my decrees: Purposeless Play For All! Huzzah!

However, since I’m not Queen of the World (bummer) I’ll leave you with some resources and ideas for bringing more purposeless play into your life this summer:

  • Watch Stuart Brown’s Ted Talk on why play is so important.
  • Read the bookPlay: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination & Invigorates the Soul.
  • Take some time to dig into what truly feels like play to you. You may discover, like I did, that there are things in your life masquerading as play that really aren’t. Read more here.
  • In the beginning try a very small amount (maybe 5 minutes) of regular play without an agenda, and schedule it in your calendar.
  • Go on a Purposeless Play date.
  • Find a Purposeless Play role model to emulate.

For sure I’ll be playing today.

Soaking in the hot tub. Reading. Sharing dinner on the patio with Dave after seeing clients. Puttering in the garden as the sun sets.

After all, it’s the longest day of the year.

Hello Summer. It’s good to see you again.

* * * * *

Sign up for my Inner Circle Newsletter right here and get monthly-ish inspiration delivered straight to your inbox.

6 thoughts on “deep summer & why you need more purposeless play in your life

  1. Purposeless play, indeed! Love it! And really, you should be Queen of the World – obviously – since you have this great play idea. Now who can we talk to about arranging the Queen thing?

    You know, I’m not sure *when* I stopped living like Deep Play was in my blood, but it is high time I get back to it. Thanks for the reminder, Patty!

  2. I have a guest post upcoming on my blog and the author referred to the French tradition of “taking a pause.” I am so taken with that idea! I think its a much better way to refer to laziness, which I’m actually also quite a fan of!

    • The French certainly do have a way with words, Charlotte. I’m guessing they pursue way more purposeless play than we Americans do. I mean, don’t most European countries take 6 weeks of vacay when everything closes down???

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s