Bonne Annee: Let’s Play!

Mini grand piano

A friend gave me a set of “nanoblocks” for Christmas.

Nanoblocks are described as the world’s smallest toy building blocks. (Check it! My sunglasses next to the finished piano in the pic offer a size comparison).

I had mentioned I wanted a piano, so my friend thought this would be a good start.

My new piano amidst festive cards

He was right!

There was something infinitely pleasing about quietly fitting these micro pieces together for no other reason than it was fun (geek alert!)

I’ve decided my only new year’s resolution is to play more. Sure, goals are important and can serve as good motivators. But I’m convinced that incorporating more freeform play into my life will help me reach my goals.

Counterintuitive?

I don’t think so.

One of my collages when I went on a brief collage kick

We are hyperconnected these days. I’m addicted to my ever changing Twitter stream, friends’ updates in my Facebook feed. I love how the Internet allows me to stay connected to people I care about. In this day and age, the ocean is no obstacle in keeping me close to cherished ones.

Creativity and original thought require time, however. I find my attention span has diminished the more I’m online, clicking one link to the next, ‘liking’ people’s photos, surfing the web. The unceasing stimulation comes from all sides and I have more and more trouble settling into a calm state of mind.

Collage of Robert Doisneau photos

I want to create space again for the kind of stillness a constant barrage of information makes us tune out. I’ve been feeling a little tapped out creatively, but since starting to take tiny steps to do something (anything!) just because I want to (just for fun!) I can sense that subconsciously I am refilling the well.

In my dance class recently, we began incorporating improvisation. The idea of improv terrified me, but I’ve found how liberating it can be. My teacher suggested I close my eyes and not to worry about how I looked; just go with what felt interesting. Let my body lead. Afterward, she told me that when I lose the self-consciousness, my movements are beautiful.

This is what I mean by play. Being curious, experimenting, not trying to do something “right.” It’s surrendering to the present moment and seeing what I discover there. This kind of openness is required to create, too. To write. Lifting the pressure of always having to have a goal in mind frees me to explore further – and sometimes stumble into something really cool!

New Year's Eve socks courtesy of another friend (yes, I am so chic and my friends are fun!)

So, while on the surface building micro creations or glueing collages together or dancing around my apartment in colorful socks may not seem like it has anything to do with my writing goals, I know this kind of playfulness is an invitation to the muse. Look, muse! I’m having fun over here! Don’t you want to join?

I had just set out to write this blog post when I noticed on Facebook (yes, it’s still open) that a lecture at my MFA alma mater (Vermont College of Fine Arts) was happening today called “The Importance of Wasting Time.” It was a discussion of the importance of diversion and described thusly:

“Throughout our lives, we’ve been cautioned against the evils of wasting time. Writers, in particular, are constantly wary about whiling away the hours on trivial pursuits. Yes, we dance and fish and hike and shop and play sports and watch television and fiddle with the Internet. And sometimes we feel guilt-ridden—occasionally to the point of writer’s block—when we realize just how much time we spend on so-called idle endeavors. However, in the tradition of Bertrand Russell who said, “The time you are enjoying wasting is not wasting time,” we submit that time wasted is often time well spent, because writers live special lives. After all, even in our dreams, we are hard at work.”

Another one of my random collages

See how serendipity strikes again! These kinds of organic connections happen more when I’m just kind of exploring what’s out there and seeing what comes up. I took the fact that some of my favorite writerly people were busy in a lecture about wasting time as vindication that I am definitely on the right track with this play theory.

It is in our idleness, in our dreams, that the submerged truth sometimes comes to the top – Virginia Woolf

So, 2012, bring it on! We’re going to have fun! And I’m even pretty sure I’m going to get a real piano! Step away from the computer keyboard and tickle the ivories on another kind of keyboard. Play the piano, play with legos, get my groove on, glue more collages. This may be my most random resolution list ever, but I feel it’s the way forward.

My last little trick? Whenever I’m taking myself too seriously (rare, I swear), I hit play on this little guy on my shelf. It always makes me laugh.

Ok, friends. That’s it for this edition of “sneak peak into strange things around my apartment and how I spend my time.”

Happy New Year! What are your plans?

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23 Responses to “Bonne Annee: Let’s Play!”


  1. 1 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) December 31, 2011 at 9:21 pm

    What a wonderful post, Sion — I love how you explain how you capture the creative vibe and how you have been manifesting that in your life — collages, socks, horses! Great stuff. Here’s to a 2012 full of creative spirit and play. :)

    Happy New Year to you, Sion. We’re chilling here at home, I’m still gorging on episodes of “Northern Exposure” (a show I so love for its magical spirit. It’s inspiring to me and it is so much fun seeing the narrative arc from story to story, season by season — one of the great advantages of watching old series a bunch of episodes at a time!). I’m about to get some dinner and watch a movie with Paul, and then I hope to have a good night’s rest. After discovering a bunch of baby spiders had taken up residence in the Christmas tree, we went ahead and took it down today. I have to say, meeting the new year with a cleaned-up house is really refreshing! I hope that this feeling of refreshment and renewal carries into 2012.

    Thanks Sion, and see you in the new year!
    xx
    Karin

    • 2 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) December 31, 2011 at 9:23 pm

      P.S. I have to say, I quickly re-read this post, and it is not unlike something that Chris in the Morning from NoEx might say on his radio show. Maybe I am watching too much of the show, lol, but I think you may have channeled him a little bit in this post! ;-)

    • 3 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2012 at 3:03 pm

      Thanks, Karin. Yeah, something I should admit is that my creative play time makes me an even lazier housekeeper. A clean house *does* sound nice, but that’s sure not what I’ve got! :)

      Happy New Year, Karin! May it be full of creative spirit and play for you, too!

      • 4 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2012 at 3:05 pm

        PS, wow, you really are on a Northern Exposure kick! That’s a good point about being able to see the story arc even more clearly watching the episodes back to back. Another good learning tool even while simply enjoying a show!

      • 5 Paris Karin (an alien parisienne) January 1, 2012 at 6:44 pm

        “A clean house *does* sound nice, but that’s sure not what I’ve got!”

        About a dozen baby spiders in webs on a Christmas tree are pretty motivating, haha! :D *shudders* I’ve still got the creepy-crawlies even thinking about it!

  2. 6 Kristin Bair O'Keeffe December 31, 2011 at 10:12 pm

    Oh, I just love those New Year’s Eve socks! Spectacular! Terrific to get a look at your apartment in Paris, Sion.

    Cheers to you and 2012! Look forward to many more of your blog posts.

    • 7 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2012 at 3:06 pm

      Thanks, Kristin! I wore the New Year’s Eve socks last night and it made me feel like I had a party on my feet.

      Here’s to a wonderful 2012 for you. It has been so lovely getting to know you (virtually) this past year and I look forward to more of your inspiring writerhead posts!

  3. 8 Patrick Ross December 31, 2011 at 10:33 pm

    Sion, that is serendipity indeed, finding the VCFA lecture (while “wasting time” on Facebook when you’re intent on writing a blog post!). I’ve often told people that there may not be anything in this world that brings out my creativity more than playing with LEGOs; my 13-year-old son has “outgrown” them, so I play with his now (well, half are mine from childhood, I kept them). I want your microblocks!

    Your muse is lucky to have someone who honors her. Have a great 2012!

    • 9 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2012 at 3:08 pm

      Thanks, Patrick. It made me so happy to see so many of my favorite writerly folks there. The VCFA residencies are magical!

      I think I may get more nanoblocks. Or maybe just some plain Legos. No, no, the nanoblocks. Living spaces are small in Paris – best to keep my creations on the small size.

      Here’s to a wonderful 2012 for you, too. I know you already realize the importance of indulging in creative play, so your muse is a lucky one, too!

  4. 10 Lee I December 31, 2011 at 11:19 pm

    Oh dear! I was part way through a comment when IE froze up before I could post. Anyway, trying to recreate, I LOVE this post. It’s so timely and inspirational. My sister keeps me in cool sox, so love those, and a cat went racing to the window when the horse whinnied. I think that’s the esssence of what I’d written.

  5. 12 Buffy January 1, 2012 at 1:16 am

    Hi,
    The socks are adorable! I love the idea of the collages. I may do one of my trip to Europe. I am sitting here with my dog writing down my New Years resolutions. I know that sounds sad, but I have to work 48 hrs the next 2 days. Plus, my friends around here are with their significant others tonight. Anyway, I plan to keep my resolution of last year since it was enjoyable and the only one I have ever kept. It is to do stuff I want to do whether somone else does it with me or not. By the end of the night I hope to have the others planned out. I would love it if time would just slow down. The years keep going by faster and faster.

    Have a Happy New Year!!!! May it be a wonderful one!

    • 13 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2012 at 3:24 pm

      Buffy, that sounds like a *wonderful* resolution. I think I might steal that from you. I think it would go hand in hand with me taking the time to just enjoy playing. And it doesn’t sound sad, by the way, you there with your dog coming up with such a great resolution. I’ve always thought NYE is too overhyped. It’s nice internally to use it as an opportunity to declare what we want for the next year, but all the exterior hoopla doesn’t mean that much. Plus, thanks for keeping us safe, Buffy! I didn’t realize fire(wo)men worked such long shifts.

      Happy New Year, Buffy! Wishing you all good things.

      • 14 Buffy January 4, 2012 at 1:56 am

        In most fire dept where I live, we work 24 hr shifts. I happened to work a trade the day before so that added another. We work many hr but have more days off. I work 10 days a mnt unless I get overtime. It is pretty sweet to have so many days off, once you get used to the schedule. More time to learn French. I only know French food since I was a chef in my past. The guys at work love to take advantage of my cooking. Enjoy your week!

      • 15 paris (im)perfect January 4, 2012 at 2:02 am

        I love getting more glimpses into your life. A former chef? How cool! Also, only working 10 days a month sounds super cool. It’s the staying up for 24 straight hours that I don’t get! :)

      • 16 Buffy January 4, 2012 at 2:59 am

        There are nights where we get to sleep. It just depends on what apparatus you are riding at our firehouse. Though someone with a bad snoring problem on my new shift kept me awake last night. Yes, I used to be a chef. I love having that background! Now I get to cook dinner for usually 15 a shift, but still get to be a Firefighter/paramedic. It’s the best of both professions.

      • 17 paris (im)perfect January 4, 2012 at 3:14 am

        Thanks for sharing, Buffy! So cool!

  6. 18 Franck January 1, 2012 at 1:59 pm

    I think you just put a finger on THE difference between Latin people and the Anglo-Saxon alliance around them. All English people I met told me the same thing: “we envy you, French, because you have the innate sense of immediate pleasure”. Foreigners noticed we jump from one pleasure to the idea of the next one. I think it is because we have the sweetest countries compared to the German and English ones. This has shaped our thinking. Both sides. It is not a chance if latin national anthems are defensive and Anglo-Saxon offensive: Rule Britannia, Deutschland über alles (Germany above all). They are always trying to reach something and we are just living the present time. This is the struggle between schedules versus moments.
    My plans are super boring: corrections of the corrections of the corrections of my last masterpiece. It is so depressing to track down errors and inconsistencies that I open a bottle every time I find one. Wish me to become an alcoholic and I wish you the exact opposite.

    • 19 paris (im)perfect January 1, 2012 at 3:29 pm

      Hi Franck; yes it is interesting. Though I do maintain that at least for me, I need both influences. I want to enjoy the present moment, but I’m also happy for ambition and projects. I turned down many an apero to stay home writing my novel because I asked myself: a year from now would I rather have a finished novel or have had x number of apero nights. I am very happy I chose the novel.

      But now, to refill the creative well, I do need to just enjoy life more. It is life that inspires! Eventually I *would* like another project that consumes me, though. I mean, flitting from one sweet moment to another might be enough for some people and would that I were someone who could feel fully enriched by that, I guess. But I need more purpose than that.

      And so it goes….

      Happy new year to you. Good luck with the corrections. If you mean revising, I know about that peculiar pain.

  7. 20 Paris Paul January 3, 2012 at 1:46 am

    I’d like to stay and leave a long comment, but you’ve reminded me I’m long overdue for some pay time!

  8. 21 SAS Fiction Girl January 3, 2012 at 10:14 pm

    I don’t have anything profound to add, but I think those socks are unbelievably sweet and I hope you get to show them off soon. :-)

    • 22 paris (im)perfect January 3, 2012 at 11:56 pm

      There’s no “profound comments only” policy, so feel free. (Just as I haven’t held myself to profound blog posts only. I couldn’t! :) )

      I showed the socks off on New Year’s. I think they were appreciated.

      Happy 2012, Jen!


  1. 1 My New Love « paris (im)perfect Trackback on February 14, 2012 at 1:29 pm

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paris (im)perfect?

Sion Dayson is paris (im)perfect. Writer, dreamer, I moved to France on – no exaggerating – a romantic whim. As you can imagine, a lot can go wrong (and very right!) with such a (non)plan. These are the (im)perfect stories that result.

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