I confess: I’m a fairly impish person. I like to joke around. I like to prank.  I like to get into trouble with the people around me. Iggy Pop called this the Lust for Life. The French call it joie de vivre. I call it having fun.
But of course, this is more than just  fun.  It is love, too.  So when  I chase my wife through the  house and  tickle her,  it’s more than mischief.  It’s love. And when  I get dolled  up in my son’s  Spiderman outfit  so  he  and  his sister can  pretend to rob  a bank,  it’s not  just  role-play.   It’s love. Or when  I go to Starbucks with my friend  Jvo and–as he  goes  to pay for our coffee, which he has  just agreed to buy–I add  as many items as I can  to the  bill, I am  being  mischievous, yes! But more,  I am loving him.
This playfulness is evidence of a  deep truth about love: it must be free.
Playfulness  gives  us   the   freedom  we  need  to   separate ourselves from  the  confines of real  life. Real  life, after  all, is rarely  playful and,  even  more so,  rarely  free.  Most  of us have jobs that  require us to show up, put in our time, toe the company line, and  behave our ever-bestest. So the  opportunity to  fool around once in a while is pretty therapeutic.
Playfulness also  fosters some desire for  skill. In short, we want  to get  better at the  games we play. To pick up  on our earlier example, I  want  to  torment Jvo more skillfully than before because I detect that  he’s wise to my old tricks. I need new tricks to keep  frustrating him at Starbucks. Just  like Spiderman needs  new  talents to  apprehend the bank  robbers. Just like Mrs. McDonald  needs to be scared by her  husband hiding in a new spot  in the  house.
It’s probably important to note that playfulness experiences a lot of crossover with other loves, most notably  passion (Eros). In many  ways this can  be  very healthy and  exciting; in other ways, however, playfulness can deteriorate passion.
Playfulness can  be  too  playful with something sacred, and so  profane it. Ludic (from  this  word  ludus,  for  playfulness) lovers, for example, are  people who treat sex as a game and bounce from  bed  to  bed  in search of better experiences, better technique, and  better stories. For such  people, marriage feels  like a trap,  like they  have  lost the  game they were  playing and  will now  be  held  hostage to their  spouse. This dark playfulness is not love, but manipulation, and  great harm often  results from such  disregard for another person’s dignity.
But again,  when  enjoyed properly, what  could  be  more fun than this game of life, this loving play?
When he created the  earth, God said: It is good. But I think he also might have meant: This is fun.