Silliness as a priority Print E-mail
News - Final Word
Thursday, 20 May 2010 17:45
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Hey, girlfriend, it’s okay. Everything is fine. You’ve done well. You’ve made great stuff happen and you’re going to make even more great stuff happen. But no, you’re never going to arrive at a stable place where you’ve figured it all out.

As soon as you think you’ve reached some kind of stability, it will be time to take in a new wave of happenings, which is inherently destabilising.

But, says author Madisyn Taylor, here’s the trick: You have to see yourself as a surfer riding the incoming waves, always open and willing to attune to the next shift. It’s only then that you’ll see how blessed you are to have this opportunity to play in the waves.

So, boys and girls, today we’re going to try to remember how to play. As adults we might say that we’re playing, but we do not lose ourselves in play. The easiest way to do this is to follow a little guru.

You think we’re here to teach children how to do things? I think they’re here to teach us; especially how to see everything again with the open-mindedness born of not knowing the concept of ‘impossible’. After all, this is what allows them to get into a state of curiosity, spontaneity and pure excitement about the world that we, as adults, have a hard time accessing through the layers of routine we’ve surrounded ourselves with.

Madisyn says that because children are new to the world, they are far less burdened with preconceived notions about the people, situations, and objects they encounter. For example, they do not regard shoes as having only one function.

They have a natural appreciation of everything that is silly. I mean, try balancing an unexpected object on your head and even babies will burst out with laughter. So who said that reciting scatological verses, skipping, doodling or trying to contort your body into absurd poses are out of bounds for adults?

It is once we start taking our roles in life too seriously that we reject the joyous silliness and stop delighting in the ridiculous, the nonsensical, absurd and outrageous. Work takes precedence over play because we can no longer see the purpose of irrationality.

We do not truly give our imaginations free reign because we judge the results of irrationality as valueless. But they’re not, you know. It’s how humans reached the moon. In the absence of make-belief, fancies and dreams we become unnaturally loyal to performing daily acts of trivia. And that’s not the worst – we try to perform as many trivial routines at the same time as possible.

Okay, granted, multitasking might be necessary at times, but it remains a necessary evil. It’s the easiest way of losing touch with yourself. Look at children’s ability to be fully present with whatever the task at hand happens to be.

Adults have to be re-taught to be present in the task they’re performing; even to be present in their own lives. Think of the many Zen classes where fully grown people are taught to say: “I am aware that I’m sitting on the chair” or even “I am aware that I’m breathing”.

Imagine a child on the carpet with a piece of paper and crayon, tip of the tongue protruding, absolutely intent on what she’s doing. That is what we’ve lost. If we can get it back again, we come alive to our own bodies and start owning our own actions instead of habitually performing them.

Next time you come face-to-face with a really small child, try not to lapse into the role of director of outcome-related activities. Allow the child to pull you deeper into the mystery of the present moment, the magic of not knowing what will happen next and the exhilaration of absurdity.

It’s okay; the unpredictability of it all is way okay. So, be a good girl now and set the dial to silliness. Go play in the waves. That’s why you’re here.

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