I took myself out on a date last week. By that I mean I decided to catch a bus and let the day guide me. It was beautiful out and there were a couple art galleries downtown that I wanted to explore ever since that university professor at the coffee shop decided to strike up a conversation about art with me.
Side note – People are so down to talk your ear off here. Every time I decide to leave the house and be in a social space, I inevitably find myself in a conversation with someone awesome who paints, or writes, or plays music … or who teaches painting, writing, or playing music. Am I more open to these encounters, and thus somehow attracting this kind of energy? Or, is this city just full of the nicest creative people on earth? Is it a little bit of both, maybe?
When I got off the bus, I found myself at an intersection with a large sign jutting out from a building. One half of the sign said ‘working’ in lit-up neon letters, the other side said ‘playing.’
I snapped a picture and posted it on Instagram with this question: Are you working or playing?
Minutes later, a more important question came to me: Can we find a little bit more play time in our work? or, can work be play? With that question left hanging in the sky, I walked on to a couple art exhibits in nearby galleries. Ever since I started painting again, I consume art in a much more thoughtful way. I catch myself walking up to a piece, taking a few steps back to pause, then several steps forward until my face almost touches the canvas. Instead of trying to figure out what’s going on in the piece, I have fun creating my own little narrative. Art has taken on an exciting new layer of interactivity for me.
For whatever reason, these two paintings inspired me to play more in my own artwork. To get a looser grip on the paint brush. To bring bolder colors and interesting elements into my next piece. It wouldn’t hurt for me to have a little more fun when I paint. After all, isn’t it when we let go and feel our way through the process of creation that we experience that flow? That magic, bubbling up to the surface?
With courage, love, and intensity,
Once again you’ve brought up a number of subjects that are pertinent and profound, Kristen!
There’s a lot of thinking, talking and study of the importance of play right now but this is not new. in fact Victor Turner’s “From Ritual to Theater: the human seriousness of play” was published over 30 years ago!
Anyway play is a cornerstone of my pursuits. I don’t know if I mentioned this when we met, but I have spent the last year promoting and producing FIGMENT – an interactive and experiential arts event. One of the phrases I use (stolen, as everything is) to help people ‘get it’ when talking about a primarily experiential event – you never really ‘get it’ until you’ve lived it – is this: “At FIGMENT adults play like children, so children want to grow up.”
And here’s an article that talks about the benefits of play, how some are benefiting and/or capitalizing on these, and how FIGMENT addresses them 🙂 http://lifereimagined.aarp.org/stories/3375-Playing-For-Keeps
Flow is when you stop playing for keeps (which isn’t really playing anyway, it’s competing) or for the prize. When we let go of if we win or lose, any attachment to any outcome or future result, we are present and we are free. Flow is when your work or play is merely a part of you, an extension, as expression of your being. It’s when you know you are doing the right thing.
Finally, you may be interested in this video http://www.ted.com/talks/mihaly_csikszentmihalyi_on_flow.html
Yes, I loved hearing about Figment when we met — I’m so curious to read more about it. Sounds like an amazing event, congrats on your work with it!
After spending the majority of my twenties in San Francisco, I have to give it to that city — adults know how to play. Events like Bay to Breakers are a good example. For being a city of ‘snobs’ – as a recent article dubs SFers – people sure know how to cut loose and play.
Thanks for reading and for sharing that video. Watching right now 🙂