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deep play

Grace Zhou's picture

It is special. Different from other trips, the journey to Tibet is so unforgettable that even now, the experience is still vivid in my head. Normally, I visited and played in different tourist attractions when travelling; however, when I went to Tibet, my family decided to visit the schools there which are incredibly remote with limited teachers and outmoded equipment.

After hours of rough car rides, we finally reached the school gate almost at noon. Putting on sunglasses and scarves, we got off the car. The scene in front of us shocked me: students were studying on the bare playground with eyes hardly open in the scorching sunlight. The principal and teacher warmly welcomed us, the children cheering loud for the books and stationery we brought to them. When our short visit came to an end, the teacher squeezed into crowd with four pieces of white silk (named Hada in Tibetan for greeting guests) raised to chest and a shy smile on his sun-burnt face.

It’s not a playful journey any more, but something more, more than playing- maybe deep play. In other words, traveling is definitely a kind of play- “an activity enjoyed for own sake and makes me feel satisfying and absorbing” defined by Ackerman. This trip is deeper than play. However, in addition to the definition of deep play brought by Ackerman- “is the ecstatic form of play. In its thrall, all the play elements are visible, but they're taken to intense and transcendent heights” “ involves sacred and holy”, the experience in Tibet gives me more than an intense play.  I thought deep play is a special and sacred experience, involves changes and encourages people to reflect and welcome unexpected senses of achievement, connection, meaningfulness and fulfillments.

For instance, in the journey to Tibet, I never expected to receive so much happy laughter and even lofty respect by such a little act of kindness when playing. I never take it so seriously until I started to reflect that this playing has meaning not only for me but also for the children. Also, with the help of deep play, Tibet is not only a breathtakingly beautiful place where pilgrims come with grief, pray with hope; it also becomes a place that related to me emotionally. I respect and treasure this experience, which changes a normal playing to a process of reflection and connection.

We can apply deep play in various experiences, such as writing. Instead of describing the fact and illustrate representation form, deep play in critical writing asks for reflection. By thinking deeply the reason under an appearance, deep play enlightens the writers to explore the essence of phenomenon that may be unexpected. Thus, during this process, writers improve by thinking more comprehensibly, which may lead them to completely new comprehension. So, with the changes in writer, deep play in writing will result a new meaningful connection with the reader. In other words, by using a new lens which focus on the reason under surface, deep play in critical writing changes the normal and obvious ideas illuminated by writers; as a result of which, the readers will be left a refreshed view and connection. Thus, deep play is special enough to change connection and to inspire new ideas.

Thinking about the essays I wrote before, I am playing, but not playing deeply. Focus mainly on my own feeling and thoughts, it’s hard for me to write critically- to pull me out and reason “why it happens”. So, it’s more like a description of my opinion instead of the analyst that can inspires the reader to reflect (either criticize or support) and follow my step in digging the reasons underneath. It’s hard to build connection with reader when I only care about myself. Deep play needs me to welcome unexpected ideas, which may lead the reader to refreshed and brand-new views on an obvious fact or traditional common sense.

For instance, when I wrote the essay about the mosaic, I started to give the fact that Zagar is creating mosaic playfully and what techniques he uses. It’s writing, but not deep play. It’s description, but not reflection. So, if rewrite it, I would place more emphasis on the reason of creating mosaic and what does it want to express-

 Immersed in mosaic world established by Zagar, I was amazed, not only by the random and seemly trash-like pieces, but the intention Zagar had in creating an “ imperfect” art with flaw. It seems that mosaic lacks logic. There’s no reason and pattern for the existence of irrelevant pieces. But one thing is vital in every mosaic- broken mirror. Through the reflection of our own image, mosaic enlightens the idea that the world is fragmented and the people, just like those irrelevant pieces in the mirror, are not integrated. So, Zagar not only connects and collage a fragmented world in a piece of art but also reflects the fact that our seemingly integrated life is just a mosaic.