My Word of the Year: Play

You can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation.
Plato

I always  choose a word of the year. It’s much better than a bunch of broken resolutions, and I’ve found it’s a barometer of sorts, a way to gauge how true to course I am throughout the year. I had decided on “play” as my word for 2012 back in December. I’m studying several books on creativity (risking, playing, thus the title of the blog) and I’m finding that for our minds and our souls, play is vital.

Then, my brother died. Unexpected. Heartbreaking. I grieved. My family grieved. We reeled and wailed against the incomprehensible thought that my brother was gone. He’s not, but his physical presence is a void in our lives. It took (and is taking) some time to walk through the early side of loss and acceptance, and for a time, I felt as if the concept of play far away or somehow inappropriate. To play, you have to have a light heart, and that was something I just didn’t have.

But I had already named my word for the year. I had already begun to attract and create play. I had already signed up for the gym and for Zumba classes, and I started going. At first I didn’t know what the hell I was doing. I was literally spinning in circles and almost knocking me and everybody else down. But I loved the music. I love the movements. Seventy percent of Zumba music has to be international, so there’s African music and Indian (from India) music, and lots and lots of Latin music. My hips were attempting things it didn’t know how to do…

Finally, it started making sense, and then the other day I’m grapevining across the floor and turning and booty shaking, and I’m smiling. I’m doing all this and I have the biggest goofiest grin on my face. I’m so happy I’m almost levitating. Sweat is pouring off me and I don’t look at the clock because I don’t want the hour to end. Some days I go twice. And on that day when I’m booty pumping and yelling a “whoo-whoo” I realize that what this feels like is kindergarten.

In kindergarten I learned to skip. We’d line up and take turns and I practiced and practiced until I was the best skipper in the room. I loved how it felt to be suspended in air. I loved the lilt and sway. I loved that I felt light and easy. It felt like play.

In that Zumba class it hit me–Zumba feels like skipping and skipping feels like play. Zumba feels like play. I’m playing.

And when I’m playing I’m not making lists. I’m not scheming. I’m not incessantly checking my email. I’m not people pleasing. I’m just playing.

In some ways, I think I’m getting out of my own way. Good things are happening. Things are in motion. It won’t do any good to fret about it or check on it 50 million times. .Whether it’s about writing, publishing, art, or family, I tend to obsess (who doesn’t?) Playing allows my brain to stop over-analyzing and places it in that zen-state where it can work out problems, create, and generally muck about without my telling it what to do.

I don’t know where this word, play, will take me this year. But it feels right.

The creation of something new is not accomplished by the intellect but by the play instinct acting from inner necessity. The creative mind plays with the objects it loves.
Carl Jung

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Filed under art, creativity, publishing, writing

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