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Cathy Zhou's picture


It’s another day of busy schedule, after all the classes, I decide to take a rest. Walking on the green of Bryn Mawr, trying to drive all the thoughts away from my head, I look up. It was 5 pm. The sun’s still hanging on the roof of one building, and dyed the sky with a thousand kinds of gorgeous red. The wind blows. But this moment I feel unconscious of the wind but aware of the world: I can see everything clearly around myself, but I don’t feel them from my body, I only have raising warmth inside the deep of my body, which isolate my soul from the outside world, my body. The time congeals. I could be anywhere.

When I was reading “deep play”, all the descriptions of the eternity, the holy feeling during play, gave me one word: concentration. Deep play is where people concentrate themselves into something, and that is when I walk on the grass and feel so aware of the world but in the mean time, unconscious of their impact on me. According to Ackerman, “Deep play is the ecstatic form of play.” It is in a form of play, but the spirit of deep play is not about play itself, it’s the feeling generated in one’s soul. When I was walking on the green, the only thing I felt is myself, even the whole world around me has a great amount of information, the only thing I seized was the self I concentrated on. It’s in the form of my vision of the sun, the green, but the actual deep play is only the feeling existed from deep inside my body.

“Deep play always involves the sacred and holy”. It’s not always about religion, but can bring out a religious feeling, or in another word, timeless. Risk-taking is an easier way to approach deep play. When you are in danger, the tension would suddenly capture all your attention. When taking tests, this tension always drive me to a better status than doing exercise and also made me doing better than usual. I was afraid the time would pass and I could not complete the task, and this brought up all my cells to work on the problem, and activated all my memories.

Critical writing is a form of deep play. It involves intellectual risk-taking, and is in the form of play.        Writing is a form of expression. My high school Chinese teacher used to tell us: Writing is to resist time. When I write a journal, I will try to put all my memories into words and make them as true as possible. I want no mistake in memories. And during the writing process, I will pay full attention trying to reappear the past. It was a deep play when I look back to my mind and try to seize something out of my experience. In critical writing, I can hardly feel the deep play because I have to write with another lens. When I write with another person’s lens, I have to imagine I’m the one with all the background and knowledge which I originally lack of. The process can be deep play when I devote my attention to this writing, but when I started to read, I am myself again. I still feel remote when I read my lens. I do experience that if I put a lens I ‘m familiar with, I find more similarity and empathy. I’m still trying to use myself as a standard.

The last time when I wrote about the Eastern State Penitentiary, I tried to use lenses of the government and the public. But if I want to have a deep play in the writing, I would probably use my own lens of sitting alone in the cell. That is the part I perceive myself more than anything. Writing for myself enabled me to concentrate, and therefore deep play.

The feeling also exists in education and reading. I find it interesting that it also differs the same way. In politics and economics, only the things I are interested in can enable me to concentrate. The knowledge are usually something related to my life, which says, things I’m familiar with can drive me to think deeper and harder. And during reading, novels enable me to deep play than dictionaries. Because with all the introduction to the character’s background and stories, I get concentrated and into the books quickly. It might be a human nature that things they like can easily attract their attention and enable them to focus on and ignore the real world. When I read a book I really like, I will focus so much that sometimes forget about everything or who I am---I feel I’m in the story with all the fictional characters.

For all those Ackerman wrote, deep play could be anything. But the necessary element for deep play is one’s full concentration. It might be brought up by tension, interests, or just nature, but it’s the thing that enables all to look into one’s soul and play deeply.