Play and Flow

Tuesday 8 of November 2022

Create or be created
Play or be played
Dance while the music is playing
Play while that music is you

Create as an act of defiance
Clouds will play today
We can worry about tomorrow
Some other time, some other day

Status quo as thought
From the moment we are born
Maybe nothing is for sure
Maybe nothing is wrong

Mistakes in a explosive laugh
Creativity as a honest smile
The moment we dare to go far
Is when we are actually alive

Love expands, fear contracts
The eternal dance 
Between what you know
And who you are

Learning to play life
In a different key
Creating neurons of color
Beyond what we see

While we play we create
The mind that will be
Growing this moment
The life that can be

The bravery of change
A moment of truth
Removing old patterns
This process is you.

Samu Carvajal

Play as an act of defiance

Portsmouth Sinfonia was formed in 1970 by a group of students at the Portsmouth College of Art as a way to rebel against the dominance of the “tuxedo people” in classical Music.

In this orchestra (contrary to what most peoples think) all the musicians played to the best of their ability. The catch? They were playing the “wrong” instrument for them. Let’s say: if I’m majoring in drums, I’ll be assigned the clarinet.

What started as a one-off presentation of an idea become a movement for more than 10 years, that helped numerous musicians to think differently.

If the purpose is more important than the act of doing is probably not play.

Stuart Brown

It seems to me that the more we study what creativity is, the more we learn what it is not. It is through the negative that the contrary seems possible.

We know that is not about just “waiting for the inspiration to come”, although we know it works better in low-pressure settings. We also know that it is a product of the environment, the skills and the nature of the problem at hand.

Creativity is NOT a talent, it is a way of operating

John Cleese

Creativity is a human skill. As John Cleese points out, it’s the ability to go from “Close mode” to “Open mode”. Setting up boundaries of time and boundaries of space can also create the environment for ideas to grow.

It seems that creativity is related to conditions, just like the seed needs the field to grow, ideas need space to develop. When you grow any plant you can notice something very deep sometimes: any organism is its environment.

Embracing creativity and playfulness: Where are my blind spots?

Functional Fixedness: This is probably the most essential resource I got from this module. It has allowed me to not only look for the right answer but also to question the things I am taking for granted in my life.

Extract from “Brain Games” – National Geographic

The master in the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labour and his leisure, his mind and his body, his information and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which. He simply pursues his vision of excellence at whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him, he’s always doing both.

James A. Michener

How creative am I vs how am I creative?

We are all uniquely different human beings. In our talents as well as our experiences. If you determine the skills of a group of kids on how well they can paint a circle you might be losing various ways of expressing creativity.

The trick seems to be not to try to be creative but to question the whole point of creativity. In the words of professor Ken Robinson: we can stop asking “how creative I am” and start asking “how am I creative”. First: find your style.

Bukowski said it a long time ago: style is the answer to everything.

Bukowski reading his own poems.

But, how do I learn how to be creative?

Creativity and play are about exploring many options and seeing what works for you. It’s about exploration, repetition and most importantly, self-observation.

We can wish anything for ourselves but unless we dig deep into who we really are we might never get to a place of joyful discovery. One pattern that seems to repeat itself over and over in this exploration is that unless you do what you love, you won’t be able to stick with something long enough to be creative.

In the words of the great artist Larry Poons: “you do what you can do”.

Larry Poons on “The Price of Everything (2018).

Practice, practice, practice.

So, at this stage, we have already (to some degree) identified in which way we can be more creative. We have observed what place, environment, time and activities bring the most flow into our lives. So, what now?

Creativity requires fitness, just like a muscle is a matter of “use it or lose it”. It’s important to take time to practice and grow this newfound skill (that we all have).

In the words of the one and only Frank Zappa: “don’t stop. Keep going”.

What part does art play in all this?

I believe that any art form deep inside is a way to know ourselves. When you realize how you like to play, in what way you are creative, what time works best for you and how that creativity comes about, you might gain a new self-confidence, which is not bound by the thought process or learned behaviours.

Life and art share a similar root. We can’t separate creativity, play, art and life, in the same way, we can’t separate the plant, the soil, the water and the sun.

And a memory from my childhood

“I must have been between 7 and 8 y/o. I was about to wash my hands, and holding the soap there was this plastic container in the shape of a duck, a yellow cartoonish duck. It must have been there for years until one day I noticed for the first time. I was fascinated by it, I still don’t know why. I picked it up, and start looking at this as this was the first time, its materiality, its colour, its shape. It was an incredible feeling of wonder and curiosity. It was a beautiful moment.