We all need those light bulb or Eureka moments. In Greek, Eureka literally means ‘I have found it,’ and was famously shouted by Archimedes in his bathtub, when he discovered the core principle of buoyancy. In 1666, the sight of an apple falling to the ground at his family’s estate in Lincolnshire, inspired Cambridge University student Isaac Newton to develop his theory of gravity. He was only at home because a plague had forced the university to close. Sounds familiar! It is often in the simple moments away from study or work that our best ideas come. Mozart would often compose songs in his head while out for a walk. I personally believe acts of playfulness help us take a step sideways and it’s then we get our best ideas. This light has been on the side of my parent’s house for at least 40 years. I only noticed it yesterday!
But it is in this sideways step or when we allow ourselves permission to step away from what is holding us down, or making us busy, that we get clarity and the answers to puzzles that have baffled us. When we give ourselves space to think, space to be, space to engage in something different, we somehow allow ourselves to open up to those Eureka moments. It was whilst out walking that Mozart composed some of his best masterpieces. He would hear the melodies in his head and go home and write them out.
The answer comes to the mind. It is unseen, but as we realise that that very thought is the one which will unlock the problem, we can’t help but express in some way – it may be a smile, it may be a shout or it may be returning home to write the perfect poem, design the next award-winning gadget or just simply gaining an understanding to help one of our children who needs encouragement.
It proves the unseen is just as valid as the seen. What we see in our inner worlds can have a great impact on our outer worlds. And this is where I feel playfulness sits.
This provides an insight into my inner playfulness. I guess it is phenomenology, something which I will look at in more detail. It is about making the invisible, visible. I am sharing here what I see. Many people would just see the end f a hand rail and walk past this every day. I saw a toucan. The process of my workings out went something like this:
- Found the railing
- Decided it looked like a toucan
- Manipulated the image
- As I was doing so recalled the connection to Guiness’ adverts
- Playing with words – you can talk, Toucan Talk
- Used a phrase from Dublin ‘to be sure’
- Then realised it was St Patrick’s Day the very day I was posting it
I noticed these two fellas on the hand rail which assists those walking up a very steep alleyway. They reminded me of tropical birds and I was trying desperately to think of a good pun to go with it. Toucan play at that game you say? Well we aren’t playing many games at present, although I am sure the odd tennis ball and football (or in my daughter and dad’s case, it’s been a pine cone!) have been exchanged. So why did the toucan stop using his phone? He got a large bill. Yet it is this oversized, colourful bill that has made the toucan one of the world’s popular birds as well as a familiar commercial mascot – especially for Guinness! It was first used in 1935 to advertise the famous Irish tipple and it is therefore quite appropriate to celebrate it today, St Patrick’s Day. To be sure, to be sure, to be sure!