2. Even if you are on the ground and building with blocks, you may not be playing. To play, you must let go, and be in the moment.
I am not good at playing. In fact, it is one of the areas that I am constantly working on (I realize that’s an oxymoron). Whenever I “played” with bricks before this experiment, which was usually only because I knew I had to play along with child clients or extended family members, I would literally build one of two things – a car or a house, and believe me neither were very creative.
Stuart Brown is a leading play researcher and he has some compelling research on the properties of play and its benefits. In one part of his definition of play, he says that play is apparently purposeless, which to me means that you aren’t thinking about productivity, and being productive was pretty much the mantra I lived by. Playing means you are in the moment and open to seeing what happens and what is speaking to you at that time, not controlling and having everything planned out (two more of my favorite ways of living).
For some people play comes naturally, not me. I mean, I distinctly remember the psychologist I saw a few years back telling me, ‘You can’t pre-plan life Lee Ann’.
I also still remember an incident at a brick-related event when a parent told their child who was playing and enjoying building a creation, “Why is it taking so long? Here let me help you so it can be finished faster.” I felt so sorry for that child, and yet, how often do I basically say those same things to my inner child? “Hurry up, there are more important things to be working on, this isn’t going to serve a purpose so why are you even wasting so much precious time on it, go quicker so we can move onto the next thing.”
I still fight play, but what I learned is that play is necessary for creativity and life. And so I try to relax, and slow down, and enjoy the process, trusting that the way of play, even if it feels so pointless and purposeless, is really building so many good things into my soul and creative being. Plus, it’s just more fun that way.
Lesson 1: Believe in Your Magic Words (and discover the story of why I played with bricks for a year)
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