On this Superbowl Sunday its only fitting that I should reference play.  But, really, my appreciation of play struck me quite poignantly a few days ago on my way to work.

I was battling the sunny but cold weather early Thursday morning as I was hiking to work along 10th avenue in Manhattan.  Despite the bouts of howling wind, I was mesmerized by a scene in the sky above.  50 or so birds were flying around and around and around in a tight group formation.  I’m quite certain their decision to hover in this spot was not related to any sort of excitement in the neighborhood.

So what was going on here?  There’s certainly been a lot of study of birds’ flying formations as they move from one locale to another, and the seeming loyalty that birds show one another.

But this scene seemed different.  It was as if they were just having a ball hanging out and flying around and around.

Sure, I may be reading into it.  And even if they’re not literally playing, a flock of birds flying gracefully in the air is still a beautiful site.  Still I couldn’t help but relate their playful behavior to our own.

When we, human beings, play, it’s tremendously lovely.  Not only does it raise our spirits, allow us to channel our instincts (for competition, for example) or play out our fantasies (being a hero or savior), but it bonds us.  I just saw a piece on PBS last night on the amazing bonding effects of exciting play between a couple in a loving relationship.  After a couple engages in some novel, exciting play, even if it’s just some fun new exercise routine, their feelings towards each other increase!

So let the games begin.  And maybe you’ll even feel a bit amorous too!

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