We all have our survival kit. I realise that one of the most important tools in mine is playfulness. It is only as I research through reading and through my own practice that I have identified that playfulness is the survival skill that has sustained me. Having five daughters under the age of seven prompted me to write a blog called The Modern Mrs. Bennet. It was my tool to survive the rollercoaster ride of parenthood, writing about real-life happenings in a playful way helped me stand back and laugh at what was happening. My words became my way of understanding, evaluating and lightening up. In recent years I have added visual imagery to my survival bag. Both words and pictures have joined together as a special two-pronged tool, a double-edged sword against the enemy of negativity, apathy and self-pity.
They have become inseparable and I play with words as well as imagery.
The late play theorist, Bernie DeKoven, has written extensively about the virtues of playful play and the importance of giving ourselves permission to play. In an interview in the American Journal of Play, he writes:
“The important thing for adults is to allow themselves to be playful. Because playfulness, like humour, is a survival skill. It helps us adapt to change, to engage each other, to create community. Playfulness is flexibility, responsiveness, openness, sensitivity, awareness. It connects us to life.” (2015)
In my current playful quest to find faces in everyday objects, I realise that I am responding to my environment and connecting with it. I seem to find understanding through what I do and see. My double-pronged tool of word and image spring to life and I get lost in the task, the joy of that creation and am brave enough to share it with my peers via social media.
I found real freedom in my playfulness with this image and wrote the following to go with it:
You may have heard of the flycatcher and the oystercatcher but you won’t have heard of this very rare bird. This is the gatecatcher. It has a very distinct song, rather like an oily squeak and is known to trap fingers if a human does not take particular care when approaching it. However it is fiercely loyal to the garden it attaches itself to and has an important role to play. What is she twittering on about you may ask? I guess I am just a playful twitcher who likes to share her discoveries.
To show the process, here is a video of how I draw with objects.
And the commentary which it provoked:
I couldn’t resist turning this gate handle into an angry looking wasp. It had such a sharp point at the end of its face, it gave the impression it was out to annoy. We have been bugged by a nasty virus and it has thrown the world as we knew it, upside down. Currently our house is on the cusp of change yet again as our adult students and teenagers prepare to return to university and school life. As a mum losing her brood in one go, it will be strangely silent as I continue to work here. I will miss the banter, the laughter and even the occasional bickering. Change is exhausting. As we adjust to a new season, let us do so with grace and not bug each other in the process!