There are many ways to play. Children play carelessly, threading worms on a string, keeping spiders in their pockets. Grown-ups play to escape their workaday weeks. They wait for their horses to come in (twenty-fucking-five to one!), and they yearn for the weekend and with it the opportunity to dance, and make a little love.
There are dangers, too. When we play we can give pleasure to others, but adoration can turn us into Leper Messiahs. Sometimes games have noble stakes, giving expression to the downtrodden (when the West Indies beat England at cricket it was, said Bunny Wailer, like “slaves whipping the arses of masters”). Too often we play to hurt the ones we love—such Silly Games—or become mere pawns, moved at the behest of others.
Then again perhaps life itself is an absurd game, in which we search for meaning by playing out a role, like Sartre’s waiter—or Jacques Brel’s Jacky. Whatever. The play button is there to be pressed. That is the first step on any journey.
Follow Bill on Twitter at @billridgers.