I tried to write a list of things I would do as “play”- for fun:
bicycling with no destination and no hurry
reading fiction books
making clothes for myself
talking about relationships
anything sort of mysterious and magical
Isn’t it funny: writing about play is challenging for me. It could be, that play is a rather non-verbal part of my life. A non-analytical part. And thus, there’s not too much to write about.
When one is an artist, or works for oneself, there’s still a need to play, but there can be a real blurring of the lines. If I just write a list of all the things I do anyway for work, but qualify them with “for myself, on my own time” it’s hard to find true separation between work and play. And why should there be?
But there is, because the energetic level of play and the energetic level of work are different. The only point they might meet is during the creative process.
I read a lot about the creative process when I was a teenager. I don’t think I’ve read anything on it since. But as a young person, I got really interested in a book series on the creative process that was popular at the time (1995) called The Artist’s Way. It was a book full of exercises designed to help older artists break through blocks. I loved working through those exercises, some of which were really not applicable to my age (such as – write your biography in 5-year chunks- I would have had only two and 3/5ths chunks, as everything before age three was a blur.)
In retrospect, I can only assume that learning about the problems of creative living at a young age set me up for easy access to that aspect of life, because I don’t get blocked or even too self-critical during the process. I’ve also stepped in and out of media (i.e. painting, clothing, writing) for years at a time, and been comfortable with the re-aclimation curve, as it were, to get back to a place of being creatively proficient in a medium.
But one thing The Artist’s Way book emphasized as a practise, that even at age 16 I couldn’t seem to enjoy or do, was a weekly play date, alone, doing something fun.
I would make lists of things I might like to do, such as “go to the art store” or “go to the museum” but really, for a 16 year old on the verge of dropping out of high school, I already spent a good deal of time doing things I liked to do, alone. Another exercise that was really more appropriate for the working mother-of-three than the teenage loner.
It’s a bit of a joke in our house, but I really, really get deep into my creative thought processes, and really don’t like being interrupted. It’s a morning activity for me. I tell others “I’m really not a morning person” so I can excuse myself from early meetings, but really, I am an extreme morning person and I can’t bear to give that time up to someone else. Daniel and I live in a one-room studio-style place, so this sometimes manifests as Daniel asking me what I’m working on around 10:30am, to which my terse reply is “I’m thinking!” or “Writing!” and Daniel saying “Hey, you’ve been doing that for five hours, and this is the first time I’ve asked- you can say good morning to me!”
Which I’m always happy to do, once reminded. :)
You might say, why live someplace with an office or separate room? Nah. We actually love living in a small space. It’s impossible to accumulate too much stuff, and it’s easy to keep neat and clean. It’s a shared value that’s really important to both of us- keep home simple and overhead expenses low.
And it’s a really nice, small space :)