Do you play? If so, how, when, where, why, and with whom?
What do you think of when you hear the word play? Is it a single activity, or a wild array of options – a structured garden, or a wild meadow?
Can you say or write the word ‘play’ in another language? Sign it?
What good is play? Is it possible to play mindfully? What would that look like?
What would a life centered around play – one where play is the goal of the family, look like? Is that possible? Is it a good idea, or a disaster waiting to happen?
I’ve been mulling the idea of play very seriously, these last few days., turning it over and over in my mind, like the rock I hold when I meditate (for playful reasons of my own, I refer to this as my trellium rock). I’m exploring it through all of my senses, and at different angles.
And I’ll likely be coming back to it, again and again, here on my blog.
Today, two childhood memories arose They’re connected to each other, and to play. I don’t promise that I have the words of these memory-voices exactly right,because memory and perception are, at best, capricious things…
I’m sitting at the kitchen table with a cup of black coffee. I’ve got a pen in my hand, and I’m writing yet another Star Trek fan fiction Spock story. My parents don’t know this, but it’s an erotic story, as all of my stories are. I think I’m about sixteen years old. The erotica is particularly bad; I’ve got no personal experience to go on, at this point in my life.
“Why are you wasting time with that scribbling?” My father yells. “You’ll never make any money writing, unless you become a journalist. Otherwise, this is just a pipe dream.”
I don’t want to be a journalist. At sixteen, I already know I’m too opinionated; a trait inherited honestly. I don’t want to report objectively; I want to write what I want, and find the truth in the stories I weave.
My mother is finishing supper preparations, and I’m setting the table, because it’s my job.
“How can someone as smart as you like such a stupid show?” Her voice is scornful; it always is when Star Trek comes up.
“It’s not a stupid show -” I start, but she cuts me off. She doesn’t want to hear it; her mind is made up. Judgment has been passed, and it’s a stupid show, so that’s that. She doesn’t really want an answer from me, anyway.
So there’s no point in telling her that, for me, Star Trek is a fascinating playground full of new ideas, new philosophies, new possibilities. I don’t dare tell her that it’s my lifeline when things are too much in our volatile home? And how could I ever tell her how very much I love to play with Vulcans, or why?!
For decades, I heard those voices endlessly repeat in my mind. I didn’t stop loving Star Trek – without it, quite simply, I wouldn’t be me…it’s woven into my warp and my weft, and indelible part of the pattern of my life.
I didn’t stop writing, either (or, at least, thinking about writing, since there was a marked dry spell of actually putting words to paper when my children were small). I didn’t even stop writing Star Trek fan fiction.
I put my writing guiltily in spiral bound notebooks; when they were full, I guiltily piled them on a shelf, or in a cupboard – proof of the time a smart person had spent stupidly, and of my childish refusal to give up onpipe dreams.
I seldom showed them to anyone, except my best friend. Once in a while, I would read one of the ‘naughty’ bits to my Accomplice. But, for the most part, those stories just sat there, gathering dust, taunting me.
If you browse the sidebar, you’ll see that’s no longer the case.
These days, I treat all of my writing – fanfic and otherwise. – as mindful play. The fanfic itself has changed, some – I’m more likely to write Trip and T’Pol shipping stories now than I am Spock stories. But, regardless of the particulars, that’s my playground, my sandbox, my learning lab. It’s indispensable to me, as a writer and a human being.
I learn about writing from them – and I learn about myself, and the world I inhabit, at the same time. I’m a better writer and a better human because of them…
And, this holiday season, I’ve decided to honor that.
Beginning tomorrow, December 1, I’ll be sharing my Enterprise Advent Calendar.
Well, for that part, you’ll just have to wait a day – (or, if it’s after December 1, 2015 when you read this, click the date and be a time traveler!).
Come on back tomorrow, and open that Very First Tab!
Click for more Mindful Monday playtime!