Sea squirts inspire play

You have to keep playing. Get on your hands and knees, crawl through the dirt, climb, surf, dance, sing. Each day the more we play, the more we grow. I do not mean your waist, I mean your brain muscle. Play is a catalyst to keep adapting and growing, learning and evolving. Last week I finished reading “Play: How it Shapes the Brain, Opens the Imagination, and Invigorates the Soul” by Stuart Brown. It is a very interesting book and makes me realize how much more I need to PLAY in my life. This specific idea about sea squirts resonated with me:

“The sea squirt is an example of a basic principle of nature: Use it or lose it. If a capability is not being used, it becomes an extravagance that is jettisoned or fades away. Either we grow and develop or we waste away. Most animals don’t go to extremes like the sea squirt, but the pattern remains the same. Most animals grow new nerve connections extensively only during the juvenile period. The sea squirt stops moving, and many higher animals stop playing, and the brain stops growing. But not humans. The brain can keep developing long after we leave adolescence and play promotes that growth. We are designed to be lifelong players, built to benefit from play at any age. The human animal is shaped by evolution to be the most flexible of all animals: as we play, we continue to change and adapt into old age. Understanding why many animals stop playing in adulthood, and why humans don’t, helps further understand the role play has in adult life.” Page 48

A little side note about sea squirts. Earlier in the book, Brown explains that sea squirts swim around during adolescence, then attach themselves to ships or other structures, then later eat their own brains. It was his example of something that stops developing and growing. If you think about most kids, they do not stop moving, they do not stop playing. Even if they are glued to video games their brain is thinking, changing, even strategizing their next move.

Adults need to be more agile. We need to move it. We need to play. This week I am really going to try to embrace the idea of play. I am going to get rid of my sea squirt mentality and be adventurous, learn, play, and have fun. Are you with me?


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