the authenticity of deep play


Our culture made a virtue of living only as extroverts.

We discouraged the inner journey,

the quest for a center.

So we lost our center and have to find it again.

……Anais Nin

Mihaly Csikszetmihalyi describes ‘flow’ in compelling detail. He notes the following attributes as being central to flow: a distortion of the sense of time; a sense of discovery; a merging of action and awareness; autotelic satisfaction (enjoyment of doing something for its own sake); the loss of self-consciousness and anxiety about failure; a sense of orderliness to one’s concentration with clear goals along the way; separation from consideration of everyday concerns; a sense of adequate control even as one explains new information, or a lack of a concern about loss of control. All the friends I asked about a ‘great day’ described a quality of experience that made satisfying sense of the day. A palpable experience of flow radiated meaning throughout the day. Here is a secret from the work of creativity; experience doesn’t just happen to us. We make our experience. Artists know it is risky to separate their actions from their yearnings literalizing the passion for good experiences into a lust for goods. Without a link to personal yearning, the urge to enrich life-experience can only be fulfilled through ownership, becoming the over-consumer’s hunger that creates so much of the addiction, apathy, and lost opportunity we see in today’s world. We do best when we live by Heraclitus’ maxim: ‘Man is most nearly himself when he achieves the seriousness of a child at play.’ We are seriously short of serious play in our world. The experience of play has distinctive attributes much like those of flow and when it finds its way into the work of art, it may be called imagination, invention, improvisation, innovation or getting into a groove. The more we expend going in to a work of art, the greater the energy we get out. I call this phenomenon ‘the bounce.’ Our irrepressible yearning can’t resist pushing on; at the moment of completion it says, ‘and.’ Making a world bounces us into the beginning the next world. As Carl Jung noted, ‘The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play of instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.’….Eric Booth

the instinct for hope is deeply related to our need for engagement with our inner voice….the flow we create when we let go into the seeming insanity of self-discovery….shifting into an alignment of abundance is our vital connection to that flow…..

Creativity, like everything else, requires both diffuse awareness and focused consciousness. We need to harness our ability to scan and detect all the possible elements and then focus our attention laser-like on our specific project. In order to create, listen, honor our process, and follow where it leads, we must care for ourselves as a valuable conduit of ideas and actions. To accomplish our goals, we have to learn to redirect our senses from caretaking to creativity and that may not be our normal style. You have to be able to dwell in your own private sphere to create. Transformational teacher Shakti Gawain talks about burnout; ‘Burnout is a big issue. I need to separate the workaholic parts of myself- the teacher, the giver, the world savior- and stay more in touch with the other parts of myself that want time to relax, to play, be quiet, and enjoy solitude and intimacy. The more I am recognizing and allowing those parts to come forth, the more I stay in balance.’ Charting your unique style and vulnerabilities helps you become lead navigator of your own life……Gail McMeekin

besieged by the hope we create for each other…..

Over the decades, in the main, an inner force has infused my work. It is a ‘source without source’ that has acted as a cross-wind countering the more mundane winds of ‘no time, no energy, flat-out exhausted.’ There have been a handful of loyal and insightful souls- most never having graduated from grade school- who have stepped into my woods for brief periods of time during this last 52 years. Even though ‘my work in the cave’ is, of necessity, deeply solitary, they have left little trails of evanescent materials, such as bread crumbs, to momentarily mark the path, or left some little twigs as tinder for rekindling the fire, an occasional cloak that when donned, causes one to be able, temporarily, to fly…….Clarissa Pinkola Estes

8 thoughts on “the authenticity of deep play

  1. It would seem there is a very deliberate effort taking place that is attempting to pull us away from that playfulness, the pure joy yhe child feels at play with friends on a winter day. Of course we need to build our shelter from the storm, but we also need to build tree houses, a chase dragons …

    • as if we should feel guilty about joy……we are, as a society, overly focused (my opinion) on goal oriented endeavors….letting go just a wee bit, brings us so much perspective….I always wanted a tree house by the way….I think I’m going to get a dilapidated tugboat for an art studio instead…..just to play in the land of make believe:) hope you’re building snowmen or igloos or other frivolous fun this winter…..

  2. Clarissa Pinkola Estes is a favorite of mine. I am reminded of her thoughts on living an uncensored life ~ free of the rules and expectation that keep us tied to failure ~ that keep us bound to time.

    Though my neighbors think me mad, I am known for playing in mud puddles, chasing kites, and spending entire days in search of four-leaf clovers…… I’m quite certain they watch from their windows filled more with envy than with disgust. Lovely as always, Blue. ~ Bobbie

    • love to hear I have a cohort in fun frivolity! I’ve been known to wear wings while doing the same……such a great point you make about freeing us from time….oh that is so welcome some days….wishing you both solace in quiet and time to fly…..

  3. Very interesting post, Blue.
    *You have to be able to dwell in your own private sphere to create. *
    I do agree with this.

    Wishing you a fantastic 2013 🙂

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