People normally go through two stages in life: learning(childhood) and doing(adulthood).
We don’t really have the option, as modern people, and particularly as programmers, to stop learning and simply apply previously obtained knowledge. We spend much more time learning(languages, techniques, how particular code works, why something isn’t working) than doing.
Therefore, in order to continue to learn as effortlessly as possible, for as long as possible, we must remain children, because the mode of operation cannot be detached from fundamental state of mind.
Now, doing so is made much more complicated by the fact that child-like behavior, in people who should be capable of adult-like behavior, is viewed as a sign of disability.
This is because another key aspect of adult behavior is instrumentality. From the perspective of individualistic, self-interested animals in the business of doing things(especially those of the west), lacking the utility of adult behavior(ensuring one’s position in a social hierarchy, maintaining various complex relationships, etc) could only be construed as a defect.
And this is compounded by the fear of the unknown(and related dislike of anything which differs from the norm), which drives the need in people to conform to a particular pattern of complex behavior, not merely for whatever direct instrumentality it provides, but to simply avoid appearing strange.
It also seems to be the case that most adults are unable to perceive the behavior of others as being anything other than primarily instrumental. Or more generally, lack the realization that others may have differing motivations than their own(and thus, their behavior may have a different impetus).
This awareness perhaps just takes time to develop. It certainly took a long time for me to figure out.
In any case, therefore, the path to playtime is fraught with peril, but worthwhile, as adulthood just seems to me to be some sort of pre-death stasis hell.