I was checking out the website of a friend of mine and in his artist statement he talks about the importance of play in his work.
Play embraces ways of seeing, doing and being that are easily lost in our fast-paced world.
The examples of artwork on his site are elaborate projects and performance pieces that embody the spirit of play and exploration. There is obviously a lot of work that goes into all of the things you see but there is a wonderfully playful undertone. How about the chorus of people wearing hazmat suits? (double click on #2) I’ll bet it didn’t feel like hard work putting that together.
When we grow up, go to school or get a job, play is on one of the first casualties of our grown up lifestyle. The good thing about having kids, when it comes to the subject of play, is that they are the best teachers you can have. I spent last night with my daughter splashing around in the bathroom sink, mixing up potions (soap and water) and taking her Little People for a dunk in the swimming pool (the sink filled to the absolute brim). This is an activity she is content to do for hours, or at least 30 minutes which might as well be hours to a 3 year old, with or without an audience and with no real objective or set stopping point. These are all things we must abandon if we are to truly play.
One of the benefits of playing when you’re an adult is you can do things on a much bigger scale. You also don’t have anyone to tell you your little play project might not be such a good idea (remind me to post the video of the tower of blocks we knocked over with the ceiling fan!). The other benefit is that when you’re an adult you can get paid for your little play projects. Now keep in mind money can’t be the objective or it won’t really work. But if you are truly immersed in the fun and exploration of your play then others will be drawn to it too. Just like the kids on the playground who are drawn to the solitary child making the sandcastle. Any entrepreneur can tell you how to eventually monetize that human interest and audience.
If you don’t have kids you can still find excuses to play. I remember when my wife and I spilled dried spaghetti all over our kitchen floor long before kids were in the picture. We then sat down and spent the evening playing pick up sticks with the dried pasta. We’ve been married 8 years (yesterday!) and that’s one of those fond memories that still stands out in my mind.
So go out today and be more playful, be more interesting. Your future self will thank you for the memories.