Invisible Toys

“[I]f we want to pursue rest, we must learn how to be unproductive. Rest demands that we be in a state of leisure.” _John Koessler, Mark Galli, The Radical Pursuit of Rest: Escaping the Productivity Trap


Over the holidays I was carting three of my grandchildren around and I heard them in the back have fun good time. They had this complex drama going on that involved all types of implements, locations, and people.

When I looked in my rearview mirror all I saw were three children sitting in their seats.

I asked, “What are you doing?” They all replied, “We’re playing with our invisible toys.”

I thought to myself, here we adults are spending bucket loads of money each Christmas for toys and really all our children need is their own imagination.

Something you will never hear a parent say to their children is: “Come here, I want to teach you how to play.”

Why is that?

Playing for children is as natural as breathing. It is so natural that if they do not have toys, they will create them (even invisible ones!).

I know, we adults play too but we have to work at it. We buy expensive toys and special clothes, drive long distances, and compete or better yet, we hire others to play for us and pay them huge amounts of money while we just watch and scream.

Bottom line, play for adults is mostly expensive hard work; play for children comes so naturally that they don’t even need toys or a visible playmate.

Something you will never hear a parent say to their children is: “Come here, I want to teach you how to play.”

I’m sure there are a lot of takeaways from this (like having to be like a child to enter heaven / I bet heaven is going to really be a fun place!).

But the takeaway that comes to mind is one word which comes from the quote I started this blog with: leisure.

Every waking moment can’t be about productivity. Neither should it be about zoning out and numbly staring at a television or device screen while eating chips and popcorn.

The word I like for what I’m trying to describe is recreation and I like to spell it re-creation.

Re-creation is active, intentional, and fun. It restores, rests, and recreates balance and harmony to our lives.

I’m not as good at it as I should be but I know this, going forward, I’m going to be more intentional about finding time to play more and my grandchildren have taught me so much—I don’t need expensive toys or trips to do it—there’s a whole invisible universe available if I need it.


I wonder what the little girl in this picture is seeing? I bet it is not the same thing that the adults see and I bet it is a whole lot more fun.

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