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"This is the real secret of life - to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play." - Alan Watts

Kids at Play When asked how I got into "play work", I have given all kinds of answers: wanting to have more joy and fun in my life, tired of the drudgery of personal struggles and weary of working "seriously" fulltime with clients enshrined in their own painful dramas. Then there's believing that I can always benefit from more healing through Inner Child work, and that my improvisational play workouts are really deep meditations, opening me spiritually. After all, the spontaneous, improvisational quality of expressive play builds presence, making it a dependable route to Self-discovery. It's also true that the discovery of who and what I am –and what we are together- is my dearest form of play, and that play is my favorite way of relating.

Which brings me to the subtle undercurrent of my attraction to play: the deep balm it provides to my lifelong loneliness, a loneliness that stems, ironically, from a dearth of human playmates. Having a rich inner life of continuous "creative possibilitease" that merges with magic, mysterium and mystical madness, and so seldom encountering another human being available to go there with me, I've died inside a thousand sorrowful deaths.

Not that I think that others are the whole problem. I freely admit that I am all too often intimidated about initiating deep play with others outside the protective walls of a workshop. Imagining rejections of incalculable proportions, I hide my outrageous and bountiful self and play it safe. Sadly, that safety pattern is a cage leading to results I know only too well: confinement to solitary play with nonhuman playmates, while suffering the strain of acting civilized and proper with humans, prisoner to predictable, even soul stealing conventions from a world that has forgotten its glorious origins.

My hunger for playmate experience has served up feasts with wild flowers and mushrooms, dances with wind spirits and stars, treks on wilderness trails explored with my beloved playdog Kristol and fun collections of feathers and bones. I've made weird driftwood huts on southern Cal beaches and left stone goddesses atop mountainsides and hearts of broken glass and gunshot shells in the middle of military target practice sites. I've risked naked encounters with desert creatures and wolfish howls at metropolitan moons. The steep, jagged terrains of my sorrows and fragrant meadows of my joys taught me that I could play with scores of art forms, even invent them to suit my adventurous purposes. My palette of colors and range of sounds, ways to move into my psyche and through my bodyself necessitated inventing a vocabulary to say what I meant -expanding along with my thirst for ways to continually express my discovery that I am, that you and we are amazing, gifted beings.

Yet still I have ached for more. More human friends to bond with in this theatre of self- discovery, this playhouse of the gifted Self, sacred arena of joyfulfillment with my own species. I look through eyes that still see a world of sad, tired human beings, animating anxieties rather than delights, lost to sufficient play of their moment: what's the trick, I ask myself, to turn the tide?

To help remedy my frustration, since 1998ish, I've maneuvered to legitimize play and conjure more of it as a facilitator of spontaneous, free expression. My thrust to share high play has yielded a handful of marvelous players: kindred artists, healers, lovers and other passion-keepers, friends and clients alike. Like my own mentors, I've taught playshops, comedic improvisation, dreamwork, “character” voice dialoguing, art therapies and played as a tantric/shamanic healer and artist. Self-discovery --that is finding out how God and Goddess-like I am by divine birthright, how constant and enormous is my creativity, how utterly imaginative and wondrous is my mind, how good and kind is my heart, and how strong, flexible and pleasuring host my body can be --remains the most intoxicating forms of play to me… The play of the gods themselves. I become an Instrument of amazing expressions!

Bringing us up to date. My desire to bring the joy and delights of playing by heart into my personal and professional relations has never been a more worthy challenge. The world really needs us to engage on the universal playground of our Being. Come improvise in the theatre of the creative Self and play a bigger "game" for Life. I invite you to be a Player. I invite you to be my teacher. And best of all, be my Friend. For keeps. –MS