My Mother, Play, and Ping Pong

As I often say, I started Playbook Studio to make work feel more like play. One book that ignited my fascination with play is Finite and Infinite Games: A Vision of Life as Play and Possibility by James P. Carse. In his book, he states, “a finite game is played for the purpose of winning, an infinite game for the purpose of continuing the play.” In the workplace and in the world at large, it is sometimes made to seem that you are either a winner or loser, but this doesn’t have to be the case. I want to find out how we can play because I personally can get a lot further if I know how to relish in the process.

My mother Kitty has always had a keen sense of how to savor simple things, and enjoy playing. She finds things she loves like piano, puzzles, choir, tennis, a good book, table tennis, and does them each with an immense amount of presence, enjoying every moment. For the past 16 years, every Tuesday and Thursday morning at 7:30 am she has played table tennis with Thach, her good friend, and coach. Even after all these years, she continues to challenge herself and improve, discovering something new each time. I admire her dedication and determination, especially since no one is watching or monitoring her; she is doing this for herself.

My mom Kitty and her long-time table tennis coach Tach

When COVID-19 hit, my two daughters, Lily and Sage moved in with Kitty, for a safe haven during the uncertain times. Sage was inspired by Kitty’s dedication to table tennis, and would often accompany her to her morning practices, and practice herself. Sage decided to capture Kitty’s practice on 35mm film, and gather materials from Kitty that related to her Ping Pong, photos, awards, videotapes, and old tapes, and create a short documentary.

 She sat down and interviewed Kitty, looking to get to the core piece of wisdom and some take-aways. One of my personal favorite takeaways is when Kitty says “someone could have one moment in your life where you’re the world champion, and never play again. I’d rather be me and be able to do this, week in and week out for all these years, as long as I can.”  It’s not about getting to a certain destination for Kitty, it’s about being present for the process of the doing. For the full experience and to see for yourself, click below to watch the short.

Of course, life has plenty of challenges, but it doesn’t have to feel like we are constantly trudging through mud. Let’s take a page from Kitty’s book and find ways to prioritize play, because we are alive and we might as well enjoy it!

Pictured above is my mom Kitty wearing her gold jacket at the premiere in West Hollywood.
My mom Kitty with the cinematographer, Sean Bagley.