Toys – 1 an object for a child to play with, typically a model or miniature replica of something: [ as modifier ] : a toy car.
• an object, especially a gadget or machine, regarded as providing amusement for an adult: in 1914 the car was still a rich man’s toy.
• a person treated by another as a source of pleasure or amusement rather than with due seriousness: a man needed a friend, an ally, not an idol or a toy.
2 [ as modifier ] denoting a diminutive breed or variety of dog: a toy poodle.
The above is the definition of toys from the New Oxford American Dictionary as seen on MacBook OS X Yosemite, version 10.4.4. This post is “toying” around with the first definition and offering some thought as I ponder the concept.
First, to explain I’ve not really had toys in my life. Don’t feel sorry for me. It has been an extremely full life. In the early years, it was about lessons. Weekly music lessons for two instruments, lessons on Saturdays (yes, at the Science Museum), sewing lessons, life lessons at home, horse back riding lessons every summer, to mention a few. And, of course, not to mention the school lessons from grade school through graduate school. Repeat through the years and over the course of a childhood, there was no time for toys.
And, then life as an adult. Teaching, family raising, house maintaining, road tripping, wifely responsibilities… back to University, did I mention teaching? (Whenever did I knit?) No entry point for toys.
So, it is no surprise that I am confused with the world I am finding myself entering. Yes, the world of toys. Confusing, because as I’ve said, I have no association with them. I don’t know them. I guess when a person has some time, they of course, need to figure out how they are going to spend that time and when one idea leads to another, we enter into the world of toys. For example: if you like hanging by water, you might want a boat. If you like music, you might want a mini-nano. If you like painting, you might want an easel. You get the idea.
What I am pondering or questioning: When is something a toy versus when is it a tool? Or, more deeply: Is a toy an object of self-indulgence or is it an object that will promote health and wellness, physical or emotional growth leading to purpose in one’s life? And, then of course, does it matter? If it is something that makes you happy, one should go for it?
We could analyze my knitting supplies. Yarn, the consumable needed for a hand knit. The supply of knitting tools such as needles, ball winder, markers…. are they toys?
I love running simply for the sheer act in itself as well as know of the health value it provides. I know I want to make it a part of my day. I know the importance of updated shoe wear for such an event. I have gone and purchased an amazing pair of shoes, inserts, and socks for performance sake and for the health of my feet and posture. Toy or tool?
Hubby has always been a cyclist. Miles upon miles, story upon story, he has accrued more miles on his bicycles (yes, more than one) than I have number of stitches on all my hand knits. Well, maybe not but it’d be close. So, now he is happily and excitedly encouraging me to join him on his ventures. No problem and I’m happy for the invite. Keep in mind, already stowed is a gorgeous road bike for want. But, what about those off road ventures we could now have? Research on the woman’s mountain bike has already begun and now as I continue drafting this post, has come to be. Ugh… shoes, too. Toy or tool?
As a fan of the outdoors and with accessible water ways all around us, time available to us and good health between the two of us, what about a canoe? How ‘bout a cabin? Fishing poles? Are these toys or tools?
It is difficult for me to accept all of this attention. I am not accustomed to such self -indulgence. When discussing this with my hubby, he had an interesting viewpoint I had not considered. He said, “To the outside, it looks like a host of toys but when one utilizes the items for purpose, for enjoyment, health and wellness, a sort of fresh-air therapy, these toys turn into tools.”
Do I need to shift my thinking or am I being too self absorbing?
PS We will not discuss the new blog theme or machine I am typing on.
6 responses to “‘Toying’ Around”
Good food for thought, thanks Holly. Another thing to explore is why we feel self-indulgent if we think the right label is “toy” versus justified if the label is “tool’. We know how important “play”is to children (and is indeed, their “work”), we should recognize those same benefits as stress release, thinking time, etc for adults….
I fear because behind all of this is fiscal responsibility.
I have been struggling with the concept of leisure myself. Similar to toys versus tools. Leisure versus Work. As a workaholic who just retired, is writing and blogging work or leisure? (yeah, me too – new computer) Is a new exercise program (really trying to get that started) work or leisure? Very thought provoking post.
I think I am going to write a post in response to your comment as to why I believe writing a blog or writing of any format, even a personal diary, work. Regarding new exercise, if you are “trying to get that started”, it is clearly work for you. Anything new is work. Transition is hard work. We are working together right now encouraging and supporting one another. I have included this topic on my list of blog topics.
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I tend to think of my running gear as tools, but my knitting, spinning, and sewing gear as toys. I think because of the obvious health benefits that running gives. Although my fiber hobbies offer much mental health, it is not as obvious to the outside world.
See! It’s a great topic! And, we sure have lots in common!
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