play

March 24, 2010

Why is it so hard sometimes to take time to play? When did life become so serious and all the tasks of adulthood take on so much weight? I wonder about this often, because I think many of us can feel this way at one point or another. One thing I have learned over and over again is that play is vital to creating good art. I'm reminded of this every time I allow my inner artist to do something she would enjoy. Or something without a "should" attached to it. It's like something becomes unplugged and creativity flows out again freely.

And, it's amazing how easily I forget this connection (or choose to ignore it), and feel guilty when I ponder having fun or doing something "non-productive." I mean, the reality is no one's going to die if I don't finish x, y, or z today. And, when did what I have to accomplish become so important anyway? What is the rush? It seems to be human nature to always be trying to reach some far off goal instead of enjoying where we are, as if elusive happiness somehow awaits once the goal is achieved. But the irony is we immediately replace the accomplished goal with a new goal and give away a chance to embrace what is today, what is now.

My artist friend Shari wrote this great sentiment in her recent newsletter: "If I didn't appreciate it before, this experience has shown me just how closely intertwined my creativity and inner life are.  Robustness in one proves hopelessly impossible without the same in the other." I really resonated with this last sentence because it is so true. You cannot thrive fully in one area without the other.

And so it reminds me of my desire to be a whole person and pay attention to all facets of my life as I create. It is not self-indulgent to do this, it is necessary. Otherwise it is too easy to slip back into letting society dictate who we become, to our detriment, with its almost constant emphasis on external outcomes and lack of attention to anything internal. And creativity suffers.

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