Play is a Love Language

Vulnerabilities, while they can be exploited, are also the greatest gateways to being seen and heard, and self-expression cannot grow where self-consciousness lives. Creativity requires an open heart, and so you must risk.

I learned this lesson practically, and most profoundly, when I lived in Washington, D.C. For three years, I spent my nights along 14th Street taking improv classes at the Washington Improv Theater and acting classes at the Studio Theater Acting Conservatory before switching to a directing class at the Shakespeare Theatre Company. It sounds fancy, but I am forever amateur.

More than anything, these classes were an act of self-love. I was training myself to operate from a heart space because one of the lies I believed about myself was that I was all in my head, too analytical, emotionally detached and disconnected. It was, according to some, how I got in my own way; self-sabotage. Even though I loved the way I think, in a weird way, I wanted to make sure I wasn’t completely heartless. I hadn’t yet found love, after all.

What I found is that I love to play. Play is my love language. Eye contact, listening to verbal cues and picking up on nonverbal nuance, reading subtext, the physical contact and intimate space, and spiritual proximity to each other are all things I crave. Being creative with a scene partner, collaborating, is a sacred skill that I always want to practice, connection. Seeing and accepting one another, saying yes, and adding a word, phrase, gesture, or movement that the other person can respond to and build upon. You are constantly mindful of your give, as an offer that will help them succeed in carrying the story forward, even though when you receive, all you have to do is surrender.

Beginnings allow you to be new at something again, open in ways you may have been previously closed. It is a love and a healing, and fundamental to our human experience, these comedies and dramas.

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