Posts Tagged play
The Enchanted Forest of Childhood
There was a wooded lot two houses down from my home in the neighborhood where I grew up. We called it “the woods.” At times, the lot became an enchanted forest. This was especially true when I invited a friend to play in the woods with me. One of my friends shared my enthusiasm for vintage horror films. We transformed into monsters and created our own scripts using the enchanted forest as our stage.
One afternoon, I remember playing Frankenstein to my friend’s Wolf Man. I can still clearly remember scenes from this “play” forty years later. When our time together had almost expired, an invisible alarm clock sounded inside me. We had to return to my house. My friend’s mother would be calling any minute to arrange a pickup. I stood at the border of the woods, one foot in the wilds and the other on the neatly mowed grass of an adjacent home. This is the thought that ran through my head:
Next year we’ll be in seventh grade and we won’t be able to do this anymore.
Another alarm clock had sounded, only the chimes of this one struck an infinitely more somber note. The chimes said the time had arrived to put this chapter of my life behind me. I was not in the least bit happy at the news.
The Paradox of Growing Up
Growing up is often associated with pain, and I am certainly no stranger to this experience. Growing up is scary. We have to separate from the umbilicus of parents, stand on our own two feet, compete for a niche in society, establish loving relationships, become parents, and face death at the end of our journey. Truth be told, I’ve never really wanted to grow up. To this day, I am not a big fan of “putting away childish things.” But it seems growing up is something a human being cannot avoid if he or she desires to lead a constructive, creative life.
Here’s a trick I’ve learned that makes the medicine of growing up a lot easier to take—ladle in generous doses of daily joy.
You may be thinking (or laughing to yourself and at me): How do I do that with the uncomfortable pressures and time crunch of work and family responsibilities? Relax. We’ll get to the answer, but first, we need a little more background.
I get stuck creatively and psychologically if I’m not experiencing joy on some kind of a regular basis.
The Power of Joy
Obviously, joy is a precious and elusive commodity. It takes effort and a multi-faceted strategy to experience it. Joy is the elixir of life in my universe. It is the oil that allows this machine called me to run smoothly. When I’m feeling joy, I’m more creative. My work reaches a higher level. I am more motivated. I want to expand my heart and mind. I want to do what it takes to reach my goals. I am more equipped to help others. When I’m feeling joy, work becomes play. I’m back in the enchanted forest with my sixth grade friend. Resistance evaporates in the presence of joy.
Where does this joy come from? It comes from within me. It comes from within you. The only way to find the joy that does not depend on something outside of ourselves is to establish daily practices that uncover this innate joy. Since we are all unique individuals, we have to find the way to tap into this joy, or source, that we resonate with, that works for us. The only generalization we can make is: JOY IS WITHIN YOU, waiting to be discovered, if you haven’t discovered it already.
I’ve had to go out of the mainstream to find my joy. It hasn’t been easy, because I’m a very conventional person. Yet, something inside me kept pushing me to find an undefinable something more. I was always attracted by the idea of finding God within me, but the Eastern inspired approach of dissolving the ego never remotely interested me. And it is obviously impractical and inappropriate for survival and success in our Western culture. I would add that it’s also a mentally unhealthy approach.
Thankfully, I’ve found that any ego destructive approach is totally unnecessary. Through my research and personal experience, I’ve learned that consciousness has evolved beyond the concept of ego dissolution. There’s nothing wrong with a healthy ego. We need one in our Western civilization to survive and enjoy our lives. I’ve found a path that honors both the individual self and the universal self. It’s a path of embodied consciousness. It embraces both transcendent and every-day awareness.
You Are More Than You Think You Are
The foundation of my practice is meditation. It is my gateway to a reservoir of inner peace, joy, and love.
What do you want? Don’t settle for less than you deserve. Anything is possible. Peace is possible. Love is possible. Joy is possible. Find it. It is waiting for you in the depths of your heart.
David Gittlin has written three feature length screenplays, produced two short films, and published three novels. Before quitting his day job, he spent more than thirty years as a marketing director building expertise in advertising, copywriting, corporate communications, collateral sales materials, website content/design and online marketing.
This is a guest blog from a Swedish man who writes under the pen name, Fomtriok. I find his writing to be profound and insightful, even more so than published books I’ve read on the human condition. I’ve included his short bio at the end of the post. Enjoy!
There is this disposition that some people have, but most people lack. If one does lack it, it is the simplest thing in the world getting it back. Because everyone had it once. It doesn’t really demand an outward action to get it back, but it rather demands the courage to step out of line and accept having it.
Let us get started.
Children – they live their lives from the inside out. They start focusing on one thing, then they start trying to understanding one thing; playing with, lifting up, measuring, biting, fumbling with – one thing. And then they move to the next. Part by part they get to know their own selves, their room, their house, their universe.
Most adults, however, live their lives from the outside in. They start out by simply acquiring some locale in which to live. Thus, they start with the shell. And they start with a schedule that is empty of activities. Then they ask themselves, ”What do I put in this shell of a house? In this shell of a schedule?” And one by one, they start filling the house with objects, and possibly even a family. Gradually, they start filling their schedule with activities, musts and obligations. From the outside in.
That is no way to live life. That life is unnatural. It is a mere imitation and parody of life. It is the life of a machine. People who live like that often find themselves unhappy and ask themselves, “Why am I unhappy?” The question is ironically a manifestation of the very problem. They ask themselves, “What do I lack? What is it that I have not yet put into my life, or schedule?” So they try to add even more things, or activities, to fill the void, and “fix” what they assume is the problem; that a certain thing, or event is lacking.
But they are doing it all wrong. It is not so much that they add things, but rather how and why they add things. The underlying problem – sickness even – is that they are living from the outside in: They add things only after careful consideration. That is not life. That is work. Life happens when you turn the whole thing upside down, and start from the inside. Then you won’t even notice whether you are adding or removing things, because all that consumes your attention is primal and unaltered curiosity.
Those souls who drive the world forward, in the small or the big sense, never abandon the way of the child. They never stop living their lives from the inside out. They never stop focusing childishly and joyfully on the small “toy” – on that singular point of interest. They could care less whether others perceive their curiosity as weird or normal. And only from that standpoint do they gradually work their way outwards into the unknown, constantly playing, constantly putting together and taking apart; disassembling and reassembling, over and over, in an infinite loop. Until the whole room has a role in the game. And then the child starts over. With a new room, or the same room from an entirely new perspective. From the inside out. And the game is on again.
That is a true life. It is the only life that is happy and free. It is simple – even when it is complex. It is irrelevant whether your point of curiosity might be pottery, or explaining a complex scientific phenomena. It is still an utterly simple life.
When you are a child, there is no arrogance. You do not drag others down with cynicism. Nor do you let cynics drag you down. You merely play. At the end of the day, that is all life is; a vast playground for us to fill with meaning.
My name is Oscar Herrgård. I am Swedish. I am interested in meeting fascinating and kind people, who think well, but also act and don’t just talk.
I want to share my story. This journal is simply one of my windows to the world. Already long ago I decided that the only life I want to live, is one where I wholeheartedly dedicate myself to solving some of the greatest challenges in our world (most importantly climate change and socioeconomic unfairness). Life is simply wasted if you don’t spend it doing what is most valuable to you. Don’t become; Rather be. Don’t want or plan; Rather be. Incorporate your ideals in the small detail here and now. That is how you move mountains.