Hobbies are eyeglasses.
We use them to see the world differently, to better see different aspects of the world, or for the world to see us differently. Hobbies can do to our life what eyeglasses do to our vision: compensate for some of its weaknesses, bring some more clarity, more color or more details, to it. Some hobbies are like flashy glasses and aim at giving us a certain look. Some hobbies can allow us to peek into foreign, inhospitable worlds, like glasses that allow us to see at night or under water. Some reduce the strain and risks associated with our daily activities, such as work or sport glasses. The thing is, we get to chose our hobbies. Like the glasses we wear. And we can change them at will. According to what we want, to what we wear; according to what we do, to who we are or want to be; according to what we want to show of ourselves. They are chosen according to the taste of the moment—there are trendy, fashionable hobbies. We can have several hobbies, for various occasions, and alternate between them. Just as we must take off our glasses before going to sleep or into the shower, we often have to put our hobbies aside; the “real” activities of “real” life do not allow for hobbies.
Play is not a hobby. Play is our primordial contact with the world, our way of testing and learning its limits. Play is unique and irremovable. It is part of us, it is a constant of intelligence, a mode of what we are. Mind and play can’t be told apart. We are never more ourselves that when we are playful. The features of play vary, but not its functions. The abstraction of play enlarges our palette; without the expanded field vision it brings us, the world would have swallowed us whole a long time ago. We don’t get away from play, nor do we avoid or get around it. We don’t interrupt play, we don’t put it aside. We are always playing, especially when we think we are not. This need for play, this way of approaching and absorbing the world has neither styles nor seasons, and is the same across all ages, cultures, and even species—a puppy’s play is our play. Play comes before hobbies, way before.
Play is an eye.