AN UNCOMMON THOUGHT

"The real trick to life is not to be in the know, but to be in the mystery."
-Fred Alan Wolf

25 April 2010

Play.


My dad is a thinker. He is very creative. Dad's an engineer. You need to figure something, a-n-y-t-h-i-n-g, out? Dad's the one to see.

My sis is a scientist. Ever since she was a little girl, I've watched her do amazing things with animals (animals have done amazing things to her, too).

Mom is an artist; a talented musician who can make anything from food to painting to quilts, graciously beautiful (I'm craving oatmeal cookies right now).

Drew is a energetic singer and a dancer who just feels and does.

My reader, Zuzu, prefers to observe, reflect, take it all in ... quietly ... and then let her imagination run.

In all we do, we are at our best when we are having fun.



Kids want to incorporate play into everything they do ... cooking, bath time, spelling homework. Make it a game and they'll not only enjoy it more, but the end result is usually more concerted, natural, real.

Adults approach situations differently.

We want to qualify. Judge. Label. Perfect.

Performers at their peak, the height of the natural ability describe "being in the zone" ... that magical state of being where the reins are laid on loosely and comfort, ease, and output are at their maximum. Ty Webb demonstrates ...



When I try to inspire fifth graders to use brainstorming as a preparation for their creative writing, I encourage them not to criticize their ideas. No "wrong" answers. We call it "loving the question," alluding to the Rilke quote. The students write whatever comes to mind, no matter how silly or unrelated they may feel the thought to be. During this activity I remind the kiddos that ordinary thinking results in ordinary ideas. Who knows where your mind will take you if you just allow yourself the patience and openness to listen to what it is saying?!

Most of the time, the students are reluctant to engage in the trust and freedom that brainstorming requires. Given the current academic climate and what passes for public "education," it's easy to understand how they can get creatively cramped.

But, we work on it regularly, because, after all, creative work is still work.

Eventually, the furrowed brows and blank stares ("Mr. Firchau, you ask us to do some weird stuff") warm to understanding brightness in the eyes and confident grins, and sometimes to an automatic part of everyday life! They have shown themselves the tangible benefits of loosening up and having fun ... and workin'.



We achieved a new perspective through the process of practice, patience, and perseverance.

Did I say process?

Not an event. A process.

Small steps.

Short bursts of inspiration keep us hungry. Hemingway always finished a day's writing at a point of inspiration where he felt excited and energized by the plot. He knew what would happen and what direction the story would go next.

Leonardo was a proponent of achieving a change in perspective and innovation through play. It is the playful approach to looking at the world and, as The Maestro put it, seeing something different that allows us to renew, evolve and even create new thinking ... growth. With playfulness, Leonardo was able to ask the absurd, wonder wildly, and rearrange the reality of being that eagerly asks, "What if...?".

This ain't "follow the leader."

This is falling.

This is failing.

And joyfully getting up and asking, "What next?!"

Time passes quickly and there is no time to waste.

Look back at your footprints for a second, but ...

WATCH WHERE YOU'RE GOING!!!

Look around.

Notice.

Be aware. Open.

Laugh.

Joke.

With yourself.

On! On!



In the liner notes to his latest album, Jimmy Buffett says ...
There are few species here on earth that are comfortable going against the grain, but it seems that human beings like to keep moving forward. If you stop and think about it, bicycles are not made to peddle backwards; you don't surf up a wave and it is certainly easier to walk down a hill than trudge up one. We all tend to to be more excited about things that are in front of us (better known as the future than behind us (that would be the past). Maybe it is because when you do look back, you get some idea of the speed at which this planet and our individual lives are really traveling.



Melvin Konner, a noted anthropologist and neuroscientist, states in his new book, The Evolution of Childhood: Relationships, Emotion, Mind, ...
The smartest mammals are the most playful, so these traits have apparently evolved together. Play combining as it does great energy expenditure and risk with apparent pointlessness, is a central paradox of evolutionary biology. It seems to have multiple functions—exercise, learning, sharpening skills—and the positive emotions it invokes may be an adaptation that encourages us to try new things and learn with more flexibility. In fact, it may be the primary means nature has found to develop our brains.

Read the rest here.

"I know not all that may be coming, but be it what it will, I'll go to it laughing."
- Starbuck, Moby Dick

A professor gave me this the day I graduated.

Tarnished and disgraced, I lay down
A black sparrow come to me in a dream

He whispered: A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
And heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts
And heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts

Swollen and embarrassed I rose up
A black sparrows perched on highline pole

He whispered: A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
And heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts
And heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts

Trembling and a shaken I looked down
A black sparrow was tattooed on my hand

It whispered: A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
A. Enlightment B. Endarkenment (Hint: there is no C)
And heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts
And heaven pours down rain and lightning bolts

- Ray Wylie Hubbard

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