Play – and Doing Nothing


When we talk about play in my workshops, it’s usually in relation to the importance of play for young children. What about play for adults: play, relaxation-and, doing nothing?

In a synchronistic Christmas moment, everyone in my family gave everyone else art supplies: paints, little canvases, clay. We painted and sculpted for hours, like kids discovering that yellow and blue make green. It was fun. It was just plain fun, and very relaxing: individual, yet communal.
I gave my daughter a book: The Art of Doing Nothing: Simple Ways to Make Time for Yourself by Veronique Vienne and Erica Lennard. I found it at the wonderful Brattleboro Books, a used bookstore that never fails. It was almost a joke, just a way to remind my daughter to take time for herself in the middle of her last year of undergraduate school. It didn’t say anything we hadn’t said to each other over the last few years – breathe, relax, listen. The part about procrastination is a bit strange. Anyway – we need no help with that.

As I leafed through it, I realized l need to intentionally take time to play and – to just listen, to just digest the experiences of the day. When there’s a need for “down-time,” because things have been hectic or there have been deadlines to meet, it’s easy to forget the big picture, to flick the switch and see what’s “on” or go online and surf. That may work for a while, since it’s a change of pace, but not in the long run. So, counter-intuitive as it may seem, in the spirit of Julia Cameron’s “artist date”- The Artist’s Way  – I’m going to my calendar and posting periodic reminders to myself: “do” nothing – just listen – or play.

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