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.
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.
I don’t think so.
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.
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!
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.”
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?