Plays Nice With Others?!

“The greatest wealth is to live content with little.” ~ Plato

holding fragile earth ~d nelson


Out on dirt & paved playgrounds
children & beasts play side by side.
Playing with & without regard
to textures, colors & shapes
sounds, smells, tastes,
sunshine, rain, wind,
dust, scrapes, fashion.
Engaged in their
sometimes joyful
lighthearted, yet always
serious, perhaps penultimate
game of marbles.

Collecting & losing
one’s or the other’s marbles
offers exhilaration
amidst laughter,
squeals & tears
of potential winning,
losing & obsolescence.
Players rigorously challenged
living by teacher’s lesson
of finding balance
with the 3 basic rules,
or marks of existence;
impermanence, unsatisfactoriness
& non-self (inter-connectedness of all phenomenon).

children playing marbles ~ fotolia
children playing marbles ~ fotolia

Wholeheartedly some
play cooperatively,
happy for their life
with each mindful breath
in each precious moment,
for connection & interactions;
while other’s show
claiming their need,
even their right
to achieve, to win,
placing their well-being
above the well-being of others,
asserting survival
of the fittest,
by whatever means necessary
as our continued destiny.

Mother abides, saying
in her own subtle
& not-so-subtle ways
if you children & beasts
cannot be considerate,
exist together in harmony
& play well with others,
all other living beings,
you all may lose your marbles
sooner than later.
Now come inside, wash up
& offer grace before eating.

“You carry Mother Earth within you,
She is not just outside of you.
Mother Earth is not just your environment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

69 Replies to “Plays Nice With Others?!”

  1. Beautiful words and full of meaning.
    It seems so very long ago that I played marbles…must be 50 years or more.

    (and I have to agree with Plato).

  2. It is indeed interesting how prior to learning societal norms, some children appear naturally (shall we say?) ‘Buddhistic’ in their approach, and others markedly less so. One senses that this is not entirely down to early parental conditioning, and from past personal experience as well as in my role as a grandparent now, these observations seem validated. Thank you David; all best wishes, Hariod.

    1. wonderful observations, Hariod!
      seems so true that some are naturally inclined towards cooperation, playing well with others, while others of us learned later, or not. thank you for your kind insights 🙂

  3. I remember playing with marbles, all the little kids were so exited saying: “it’s marble season.” and I’de chime right in with them, to this day, I can’t look at children playing marbles and not think about marble season, such a sweet memory.

  4. Interesting synchronicity with this one, David, and with Hariod’s comment above. I was just observing recently a circle of adults gathered around a conference table, shooting their virtual thought marbles to and fro through the very air of the room– ping! zoom! vroom!— and wondering what it was that has led some to implicitly steer towards cooperation and mutuality, and others to carefully defend their individual positions and seek implicitly to keep the whole structure whirling around them. The game of marbles is a lesson that stays with us all through this relationship we call Life… offering its teachings and its joys at every turn!


    1. Apologies for butting in Michael (and David), but your anecdote reminded of some similar situations many years ago when I was in business. I concluded at the time that businessmen fall into one of four broad categories: 1. Psychopaths (they get to the top quickly). 2. Those with a James Bond complex (upper management). 3. Those with a guru complex (sometimes found in R&D). 4. Normal chaps who go home and write poetry or paint, and sit at conference tables watching 1, 2 and 3 play marbles.

  5. That is nice to show what is difficult as easy. Simple tools got bigger. I started with I like to play marbles and the meaning hit parenting hard. Parenting is tough in a world of survival. Hopefully that job becomes easier.

  6. A lovely poem. It certainly takes me back to my childhood days (1950’s) whem marbles were most children’s favourite pastime. I had bags and tins full of them, of all sizes, colours and designs. We played for hours on end, trying to win marbles from each other. Great poem and great photos.

  7. Something about the combination of your words, art, and the TNH quote throws me into realms of possibility – as if our marble slinging sessions are practice for creation for solar systems for which we are not quite ready. Like we play with dolls and cars in preparation for adult roles, the marbles in their mesmerizing swirling colors look like new spheres of composite atmospheres waiting for their day…Your wonderful tie-in to Mother Earth in her (almost) infinite patience has me taking my play to heart, this spacious morning. I feel like there is time for every everything.

    1. gratitude for your generously thoughtful & kind thoughts, Marga!
      makes me happy if you and anyone else feels
      a little more included to play & shine, now,
      if not soon 🙂

  8. I used to be SO happy when I played with marbles. There is something about the weight and the smoothness and their roundness in my hands. Glorious poetry, so full of meaning, deeper and deeper one can go, on so many different levels. Thank you, my friend, for BEing who you are. Love, Amy

  9. Beautifully said. I love your poem and the Thich Nhat Hanh quote. I am happy that more and more people are taking the time to listen to Mother Earth in the world and in ourselves, hopefully before it’s too late.

  10. Absolutely love this post. The photo are so rich I want to disappear into them. Thanks as well for the Plato quote. Peace, John

  11. Impressive post~ I love the excerpt regarding the three basic rules: impermanence, unsatisfactoriness & non-self (inter-connectedness of all phenomenon). A wonderful reading!~ Thanks for sharing and best wishes to you. Aquileana 😀

  12. I love the opening Plato quote, and as usual your accompanying images are stunning! A wonderful poem, in itself encapsulating that fine balance between seriousness and fun – key ingredients for any successful game:-) Hugs and blessings, Harula xxx

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