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  Jane Miller


Articles -- Play

Did you ever play Laser Quest? Two teams; You wear a vest with lights and carry a laser gun; If you get 'shot', your gun is disabled for quite a few very tense seconds! The team who makes the most 'hits' on their opposing team wins. I played that game with my colleagues from work. It's amazing how a whole group of bored down-trodden office workers can become children again.

We were also given creative challenges at Christmas gatherings. For example, create the most original gingerbread house that symbolized all the company values. Well, there were tee-pees, bridges, lights and even a Taj Mahal in the creations.

Then there was the year that each team had to write, produce and perform a song or a dance or a play. After many busy lunch hours and late nights, the resulting performances were astonishing.

Our creativity never dies. When we were children we allowed our creative side to express, but it became stifled as we entered school and for many of us, it has hardly ever surfaced again.

I believe that there is a flow of energy that runs through us and our surroundings. When we are open to that energy, every sensation we perceive sets off a cascading set of associations and feelings, and we can draw on this rich inner experience to inspire and create.

It is this constant free-flowing energy that keeps us feeling vibrant and alive. Whenever you feel lethargic, it is because you are disconnected from that creative flow. (Notice how children who are playing never get tired.) The question is: "How do you re-connect to that energy flow again?"

A wonderfully creative friend of mine, Adrienne Gabriel, is writing a book that will help you do just that. The book describes a 28-day program that invites you to carry out specifically-targeted playful and creative exercises. This is a truly transformational book - and fun too! I will announce the publication of her book as soon as it is available.

But in the meantime, what are some things you can do to reawaken your creativity and re-establish that flow of energy?

Be spontaneous
I remember one time when I was a teenager, sitting on a bus with my girlfriend. Suddenly it began to rain... buckets! It was like a monsoon! At the same moment, we looked at each other and said, "Let's get off!" We got off the bus and ran along the street in the downpour, splashing through the puddles, laughing and screaming as we got totally soaked. We were quite a sight when we eventually got on the next bus to continue our journey home, but this was just too much fun to miss!

If you're not ready for that much craziness, you can start by doodling. Whenever you're in a meeting, just start drawing patterns at the side of your note paper, and let the patterns grow, inserting objects, faces, animals, etc. Don't think or interpret. Just let your creativity flow and enjoy.

Change of scene
Another fun activity is to rearrange a room, add a new picture or ornament, get rid of some item you don't like. Just make some changes to your environment. Change the atmosphere.

This can be tremendous fun. Change your hairstyle, clothes, glasses. Think of yourself as an actor or actress, about to play a new role. Try out different styles and find one that you would suit a 'new you'.

The arts
Many adults say "I can't draw" or "I can't sing", but you never find a child saying that! That's because we all can draw and sing and write and act. Maybe you won't be famous for these abilities, but you do have it in you! Let go of the notion of doing these things for others, but instead just do it for your own pleasure.

When I was in my twenties, going through the "falling-in-love and breaking-up" stage of my life, I used poetry as a way to vent my joys and sorrows. Here is one I wrote in April of 1976...

        The last hour,
        lingering -
        drowsily reluctant
        to drift in to oblivion.

        My last smile,
        flickering -
        timidly uncertain.
        Will it be remembered?

        Our last day,
        darkening -
        hopelessly clinging,
        as night falls softly.

I'll never be a poet in the literal sense, but these poems helped me to experience all of my feelings deeply; and somehow, even the sad experiences became beautifully transformed. I felt richer for the experience and more alive.

So write, draw, dance, sculpt - whatever medium draws you.

You might enjoy keeping a journal, jotting down things that struck you about your day. Think of creative things to add to your journal. For example, add a wish list, re-write events to what you would have liked to say or do, make up imaginary characters, re-write yourself, cut out pictures that inspire you and paste them into your journal.

Spoil yourself
Creatively thinking of something that you would really love is a challenge for most of us. We're not used to treating ourselves to something that would delight us. I challenge you to spoil yourself!

Find every opportunity to be creative. Find new ways of doing things, take a different route home, read different types of books, add different spices to your food - and life.

Why do any of this? Why is play and creativity important?
Because it keeps us vibrant and alive!

"We don't stop playing because we grow old; we grow old because we stop playing." --- George Bernard Shaw

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