Play

The arts don’t belong to a chosen few. Quite the opposite: every one of us is chosen to be a creator by virtue of being human. If you’re not convinced of this, just step into any preschool and observe the unbridled creative energy of kids as they immerse themselves in finger painting, telling wild stories, banging on drums, and dancing just for the sake of dancing. They’re creative types because they breathe.
— Grant Faulkner
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I was a boisterous, enthusiastic, artistic child. My mother was always entertained by my antics. I danced and sang to Barney songs in front of the TV. If I didn't know the words? I'd mumble gibberish that resembled the lyrics. I mimicked Sailor Moon's movements when she transformed. I was convinced I was a Spice Girl (Baby Spice) later and posed with a finger to the lips in photos. I'd have my Nsync CD on repeat and yell, "BYE, BYE, BYE" as if I was in concert. My energy didn't falter and I rarely stopped talking. I drew numerous pictures she proudly displayed on our walls. I also asked to be enrolled in ballet classes at the local community centre, although that interest didn't last long.

I loved to play. To move. To express.

To relish in the beauty of the mundane everyday.

That authentic desire to create diminished with to-do lists, part-time jobs, university assignments, and passive consumption of media. As technology advanced, my time doing recreational art activities lessened. On my list of priorities, they sank to the bottom.

But personal expression through art, just for the sake of it, is powerful. It's how children learn before they develop language. Those childhood scribbles are a means of sense-making, of making one's mark in the world, of developing agency. In a culture of instant gratification (where many activities can be categorized as mere means-to-an-end acts), enjoying the process and sensory experience of creation brings joy. 

In childhood, I didn't draw art to impress anyone. I certainly didn't sing to impress family members (kudos to them for listening). These were done without second thoughts; out of sheer delight and happiness. 

Now, when I put pencil crayon to paper, my mind clouds with adult judgment. I hesitate. 

Fostering a sense of wonder and stimulating the imagination is valuable for all ages to keep us intrinsically motivated and innovative. As adults, we should also make time for such experiences to avoid burnout and revitalize (hikes, films, etc.). I feel strongly about encouraging students' hobbies and curiousities for them to feel secure about themselves and their interests.

Time for play can help:

  • enhance an appreciation of the process, not the end result

  • provide positive emotional affect

  • inspire to live with zest and excitement