Growing older involves accumulating life experience in a way that allows us to know ourselves, and the world around us, generously, hopefully, and with a minimum of denial. If reality is to bring us meaning rather than despair, however, we need to learn to soften life’s hard edges with hope rather than illusion. Which means that we need to learn how to play….
When we engage each other in real and playful ways, we touch those places that have been most injured, and are therefore most closed to growth, with love, kindness, and compassion. We bring our deepest fears into creative contact with each other. In ways that are at once real and not real, that simultaneously embody both past and present, play, once again, invites seemingly immutable aspects of our histories into the present, and so enlivens parts of ourselves that have become deadened, lightens parts that have become too heavy to carry, and teaches us to live with pains that have all too often become too great to bear.
— Mark O’Connell, PhD, The Marriage Benefit, p. 171, 185