A week or so ago I came upon this TED talk by Charlie Todd. As Todd describes during his presentation, he and his compatriots have been behind some wonderfully delightful "pranks" over the past ten years. The goal? To cause a scene in a public space that is a positive experience for other people, something that will give them a story to tell. One thing that I especially like is how playful Charlie's ideas are. These "shared experiences" are not offensive, and show that humor doesn't have to dig into a gutter for a laugh. One of the simplest pranks (9:11 into the talk) involves 6 people and 5 pieces of cardboard and provides thousands of smiles for early morning commuters. I love watching the faces turn from confusion into expectation and then into delight.
As Todd states in his conclusion, play used to be something we were told to do, without any particular reason other than the fact it was supposed to be good for us. This version of creative play, a valid use of leisure time, Todd argues, isn't only good for us, it's good for the community around us. A reason to smile is a gift that's always welcome.