Play

Do you want to build a snowman? Come on, let’s go and play!
-Anna, Frozen

I had two important realizations recently. The first centered around play. The second around work.

Play

I realized that I didn’t want to work at all. Dear future potential employers: Sorry, I quite frankly don’t have it in me to lie and tell you I’ll be a busy little worker bee. My productivity hinges primarily on social factors – am I around friends? Are we having fun? Is there dialogue and open communication and laughter? – that have more in common with play than with anything else.

I want to be having fun. This, above all else, is a goal in and of itself. And that, I think, will solve my other problems, or render them moot. So I am trying to create situations in which I can play.

What does it take to play?

  • No expectations – everything is a positive, creative act.
  • No goals – goals detract from the moment. Ironically, in order to reach my goals, I have to forget about them while I figure out how to foster creativity.
  • Go places! Travel.
  • See friends.

Right now, I have a bit of breathing room. Perhaps its my lack of conventionality (or sanity), but I’ve given myself ample time and essentially no buffer between myself and abject poverty to figure things out.

I think things will turn out just fine.

Work

While contemplating all of this, I started keeping track of little projects I would like to work on. Throughout my Play! phase, I would scribble these down and then ask myself, “Do I want to do this right now?” and the answer would always be “no.”

My prior ruminations on rolling downhill laid the groundwork for the next step, but the triggers were two things: The Young Horses, a group of Chicago developers, finally released Octodad: Dadliest Catch to the public, and I read In the Name of Love, which has the title “Do what you love, love what you do: An omnipresent mantra that’s bad for work and workers.”

The article stressed the importance of hard work, even if it wasn’t “lovable,” or creative. Some things are monotonous, but they need to be done, anyway. Meanwhile, the Young Horses worked their asses off for years to publish Octodad, but it was a creative act, one that was done with friends in a playful environment. It was hard, creative work.

So my naïve, childish revelation for the night is that play and work are not mutually exclusive. I can play…but I can also work hard. “Play” doesn’t mean “easy.” It’s easy to just sleep the day away. Real play takes work. Interesting play takes work.

I still want to play. I’m not giving in yet.

  • I may have been confusing “play” for “easy,” but at the same time I may have made a mistake in confusing “hard work” for “what I want to do.” At some level I want my ideas to be done, but I find it much easier to do certain kinds of work – guitar, handbalancing, and tricking all come to mind – so perhaps there’s something to be said about the kinds of work one is attracted to. Just more thinking to be done.

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