Archive for the ‘play’ Category

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A•Musings from The House of Stuff

May 14, 2010

It’s good to be a seeker, but sooner or later you have to be a finder. And then it is well to give what you have found, a gift into the world of whoever will accept it.
• Jonathan Livingston Seagull (Richard Bach)

Orville Wright wrote numbers on the eggs his hens laid so he could eat them in order. I read this somewhere and wrote it down. I collect such bits of strangeness. I collect lots of things, but those that fascinate me the most on my sliding scale of attraction are oddities, those small reminders of the idiosyncrastic sea I swim in daily.

You can never have too many books.

To discover what normal means, you have to surf a tide of weirdness.
• Charlotte Rampling

Rampling is right. There are waves of weirdness to be surfed, but many people do not see them. They float contentedly in their boats of normalcy and do not know that the depths hide unimagined delights. Or they see those things and find them ugly. Ignore them. Despise them. I understand this. I have my own contemptuous moments, although there aren’t very many of them. I actually like accordion music and am entranced by many things that repel those of you with good taste.

I've been good. Can I go out and play?

Junk is the ideal product. . .the ultimate merchandise. No sales talk necessary. The client will crawl through a sewer and beg to buy.
• William S. Burroughs

As much as I love awful stuff—quite possibly the junk of which Burroughs speaks—I do not purchase most of it. Take Shoedini, for example. As delightful as it would be to have a shoehorn with a handle long enough to prevent the backbreaking work of putting on my loafers and saddle oxfords and get a free shoe polisher that never needs polish to boot, I do not bite. Not even when offered a second one absolutely free (just pay shipping and handling).

As I said, you can never have too many books.

Come good times or bad, there is always a market for things nobody needs.
•Kin Hubbard

So true. This is actually a much deeper statement than it might appear to be. Think about it. How much of what you purchase represents things you actually need? How much represents choices that could be filled by other cheaper and less tasty items, for example. Food for thought. (Second pun alert. Just FYI.)

So that’s the question today: What’s your list of absolute necessities?

A little nonsense now and then is relished by the wisest men.
• Gene Wilder as Willie Wonka

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If You Want Creative Workers, Give Them Enough Time to Play*

April 6, 2010

Play is our brain’s favorite way of learning.
• Diane Ackerman

Warning! There are small people in danger of exiting childhood not knowing how to play. Certainly they’ll become grownups knowing how to log onto multiple kinds of electronic devices and they’ll be familiar with technologically-mediated games galore, but they won’t know how to entertain themselves outdoors with nothing but their friends and maybe a ball or other simple accoutrements. Good old-fashioned get-your-clothes-dirty-and-run-yourself-out-of-breath-fun is becoming foreign to many kids whose schools have cancelled or truncated outdoor play.

Over the past decade, elementary schools have been built without playgrounds so that students can devote more time to studying—often for standardized tests that will demonstrate their school’s accountability in meeting standards. Some schools have turned their places to frolic in the schoolyard into more formal learning experiences targeting students’ pro-social skills (their ability to get along with one another). There’s nothing wrong with that—and I understand the need to address bullying and a general lack of civility—but it’s not really free and imaginative play or the “spontaneous activity of children” that Merriam-Webster.com notes.

Recess coaches are providing children with the skills they need to make nice with each other, get active, and engage in organized activities. That sounds a lot like physical education to me, something that’s also been lost to budget cuts and standardized testing in many districts.

Imagine that you get a break at work or at school and instead of being able to do what you want, someone is waiting with a completely worthwhile activity you have to participate in whether you want to or not. It’s good for you. It helps you stay fit. It fights obesity. And you have to do it. It’s your break from work or school, but not really. And that’s the problem with recess coaches. PE isn’t recess. Both are necessary. And particularly necessary is the kind of break from learning that refreshes the mind. It’s important to learn from experience how to do that too.

Plato said that you can discover more about a person in an hour of play than in a year of conversation. If you’re part of a group that needs to get serious about something, consider a bit of play first.

Do you remember any outdoor games from childhood? Find some friends or a study group or your partners for a presentation and play tag or hide ‘n’ seek or Mother May I? or something else that sounds like fun.

Live and work, but do not forget to play, to have fun in life and really enjoy it.
• Eileen Caddy

* Thanks to John Cleese for the title quotation.