Recreation in order to Create
When I was a young girl I took school VERY seriously. One day something happened that left me crying my heart out (I probably got a "B") and my dad comforted me. He had a saying/proverb for every situation and this time he said, "all work and no play makes Lucy a dull girl". I was a little too young to completely understand but I did realize that I was taking school a little too soberly.
Still, I wanted that "A"! 😉
Flash forward to about 10 years ago when I was putting all my creative energy into a local dance troupe, EveryBelly Dancers, I realized that in order for my creative energy to flow I needed to recreate--aka play. Finally my dad's proverb finally made sense! But I had to make it my own--"Recreation in order to create!"
It's been studied too. According to a 2014 NPR article on adult play, they quote Dr. Stuart Brown who is the head of a nonprofit called the National Institute for Play (yes that is a real thing):
"Play is something done for its own sake," he explains. "It's voluntary, it's pleasurable, it offers a sense of engagement, it takes you out of time. And the act itself is more important than the outcome."
Adults play for many important reasons: building community, keeping the mind sharp and keeping close the ones you love.
And, says Brown, there's another big factor: If we don't play, there are serious consequences.
"What you begin to see when there's major play deprivation in an otherwise competent adult is that they're not much fun to be around," he says. "You begin to see that the perseverance and joy in work is lessened and that life is much more laborious."
Life is all about balance of course. You can't play all day every day but it definitely makes life more fun when you find time to add in a little play time.
This past weekend I volunteered for a cause that is important to me--spay and neutering dogs and cats. Our town has more dogs and cats than people who can care for them which impacts the quality of life in the community in a myriad of ways.
Over three 12-hour days, this intensive clinic spayed/neutered around 173 dogs/cats. To accomplish that number it took a total of 700 volunteer hours (including weeks of calls and coordination before the event), 2 vets, several vet techs, 10-15 volunteers a day, and a lot of food.
I floated around doing different jobs (post-op recovery, assisting the vet, making food, etc.) but my primary job was registration and communication with the animals' guardians (see photo above). Whereas it was not difficult work it was very long hours.
And although it was fun for me to pet the dogs and cats as they came out of being sedated, oftentimes they didn't think it was fun so I wouldn't say that counts as "play time."
It's been two days since the clinic ended and I'm still tired. And my creative juices aren't flowing. Over the past few days I've really missed my studio time. This morning I got in the studio and did a little painting but it was slow going.
I think I need a little recreation!
Until then it looks like my studio time will be traded in for some play time.