To answer this question, we need to start with a thought experiment. Say that you get offered to be turned into a vampire. Would you do it? Honestly, think about it.
Can you know how it would feel to be a vampire compared to being human? No.
If you were unhappy about becoming a vampire, can you change your mind afterwards? No.
It’s impossible to know since becoming a vampire would permanently change how you view yourself and the world around you. Now you might think that this is a silly question, but…
Would you become a parent?
Would you commit to that romantic relationship?
Would you give up your career office job to become a painter?
In a way, all these questions are the same because the outcome would permanently change how you view yourself and the world around you. Therefore it’s impossible to reason ourselves to a conclusion. So what do we do?
We buy a dog, dress it in cute clothes, and take pictures.
We go for a week-long trip with that special one to see how it would be.
We take a six-month unpaid vacation to follow our dream.
We sit and stare out of a window and daydream ourselves into action.
All these scenarios are prototypes, and they all carry less dire consequences than the real thing. We use them to experience how it feels. We play in a way that is safe enough to be brave enough to participate and, simultaneously, real enough to give us relevant information. This is what play is, and it is deadly serious because it helps us determine how to live our lives. Although today most of us think that only kids play, once we grow up and become adults, we now should know how to live our life. What to do. What we want. And what we don’t want. This is a huge source of unhappiness because many people are stuck and don’t know how to play. And this is why I help people play again. To understand their deeper desires.
I discovered this chain of reasoning in John Vervaeke’s lecture series Awakening from the Meaning Crisis (2019). I recommend listening to all of it to anyone with thirty hours of spare time on their hands.