Learn to Play and Play to Learn
Here's a photo I've taken, not once or twice, but maybe ten or twenty times. Who knows, possibly more. I just can't seem get it right with my iPhone. I know if I used a more sophisticated camera, I might have a better chance. But I want to capture the image with my iPhone, and my inability to do it really annoys me. First I get a little peckish, then I convince myself I don't really care anyway. I become aloof like a house cat and walk away, a little bit above it all.
I'm going to go ahead and claim this as a "serious" talent--an ability to take something as light hearted as a photo of a dandelion and turn it into a project about getting it right and getting it wrong, about anticipation and disappointment, about whether I can or whether I can't.
Can you say buzzkill?
I've noticed this "talent" pop up a lot these days, as I try my hand at many new things to get ready for the first Impact Guild event on Sunday. I watch the clamp of seriousness grip onto anything from planning my remarks to whether or not cake pops are just right for the tables. And I don't know if you noticed, but the invitation Kirsten and I have put out in the world is to come play with us.
If nothing else, my personal experience with seriousness this month has convinced me more than ever that cultivating an attitude of playfulness in creative endeavors is helpful. Playful is a lot more spacious than serious, playful gives plenty of room for mistakes, for first tries, for second tries, for a lifetime of tries actually. It reminds our ego that the work is not really about us anyway--it's always for someone else, in service of someone else. So if they laugh, all the better. Playfulness invites our zany self, our silly self, our dark and stormy self--our whole range of intelligence into a project. And most important it keeps learning fun.
The biggest risk of seriousness, for me at least, is that it can coyly convince me to shy away from learning. It gets me cozied up in my comfort zone, which feels safe for my ego, but in reality is dull and boring, a place where my soul can start to whither.
And who wants that? My wish for myself this week, and for anyone whose working on a new endeavor, is to find a way to be playful, to wag more and bark less, to spin, to cartwheel, to swing or to fly, to find your way of getting from here to there that wakes you up to the wonder, to the possibilities right here, where the water is clean and runs from a spigot, where the leaves change color, where Madison Bumgarner can pitch like a god, and where ghosts and goblins and princesses and spooks will be knocking on your door tonight. Have fun with it.