lauantai 7. joulukuuta 2013

Days 363-364: Play is real


A theatre improvisation practice, 2013.

I have been thinking about playfulness. Play among children is seen as natural and what they ought to be doing, because in addition to being a venue for self-expression it works as a way for children to practice becoming participants in this reality and members in a society. But what is it when adults play? Is there even such a thing as an adult?

To define an adult is to draw a line in water. One can look at sexual maturity, but it is a well-known fact that even young children already have a sexual drive, and that even though teenagers may be able to reproduce they are not yet capable of parenting. So adulthood does not go hand in hand with sexual maturity.

Neither is adulthood about seriousness. The myth of adulthood is commonly seen in people becoming more “serious” when they reach a certain “adult” age, letting go of old hobbies because they seem “childish” (yet secretly missing them), resenting obvious toys (yet getting new gadgets like smartphones), considering oneself as “above” all children (yet envying them for their freedom) and by no means “sinking” down to a child's level and playing like children with children among children and adults alike. Adult-adult relationships become charged with adult expectations mostly to do with power and sex, which work as means of control when the fear of one's survival in a dog-eats-dog world is one's ultimate motivator.

This is why I am always happy to find adult-aged people who have not forgotten the importance of play. Because I did theatre throughout my childhood and teen years, I grew up into an adult while constantly playing. I never really let go of play or became ashamed of it, and I've noticed that this is not very common even within my age group of 20-somethings.

I came to think about playfulness after an evening where all kinds of spontaneous play took place among adults. I found myself thinking: what are the limits here? How far can play extend? Am I allowed to do whatever? Afterwards I found myself thinking that the evening “meant nothing”, “contributed to nothing”, that “nothing was real” and “it was all just play”. These thoughts were an outcome of my disappointment, because I had secretly set expectations for the evening. With these after-thoughts I downplayed all that happened to negate the meaning I had imagined for what happened within the playing – to soothe my disappointment.

I realize that the main line of play I'm looking at here was a kind of an indirect flirtation scene, where the play just goes on and on without either one really “making the move” to make visible all the desires underneath the surface. (The fears that stop me from speaking up are not my topic this time.) What play is in this scenario is a kind of a test, a warm-up: getting closer inch by inch, little by little, to see how the other one responds, within a setting where you can say “just kidding” if the other one rejects you. It's also a way to for example bring out one's sexual drive in a safe “just kidding” kind of a zone, where you can dance and touch and move to quite an extent while still being able to say “just kidding” - although, if one only looks, what is going on is obvious and doesn't have to be brushed aside. What is here is here, and it is visible if one only looks.

So what bothers me here is the “just kidding” back gate, because to me that seems like an abuse of the concept of play. Within play one can express oneself in ways that would otherwise seem “unacceptable” or “too much”, and from within self-honesty play can then be a really cool way for self-exploration and self-expansion. If for example a flirtation play happens, it can be used to begin to communicate what draws people towards each other and what the following actions could be. The “just kidding” back gate functions as long as play is considered as something that is “not real”, when in fact play IS real, many times more real than the patterns we live our daily lives according to. When play is considered “not real” it is easy for one to accept and allow others to dismiss what they saw of themselves within play, but when play is considered real, there will be no place to hide. This is where I can change myself, so that in addition to supporting myself I can also support others within play to see themselves for who they are.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe and perceive that play is “not real”, when in fact everything we do and are is some form of self-expression and thus very much real.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to ignore who others are within play, thus accepting and allowing them to suppress and hide dimensions of themselves.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to ignore who I am within play as I have been afraid of what I have seen, thus suppressing dimensions of myself and hoping that nobody saw me (or pretends that he/she didn't).

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to separate myself from who I am within play, not realizing that by embracing who I am within play I “expand” myself by giving attention to dimensions of myself I have so far neglected, thus becoming a “fuller” being as I unlock parts of myself.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to abuse the concept of play by escaping who I am within play with the words/thought “just kidding” and excusing my behavior with play.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe and perceive that play is some kind of a field of its own separate from the reality, a parallel universe in a bubble, that what happens within play is “not real” - not realizing that even though who I am within play is not the personality I usually portray in my life, who I am within play is still real as it happens in this physical reality even though I imagine it to be happening within a conceptual reality.

I forgive myself that I have accepted and allowed myself to believe and perceive that the personalities I “wear” in my every day life are my “true self”, thus dismissing everything outside those personalities as “not real”.

I commit myself to explore the concept of play within and as self-honesty to support myself and others to learn and grow from what is exposed of us all within play.

I commit myself to stop pretending to not see who others are within play even if they'd directly ask for it.

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