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The Importance of Play
I know I come to this topic over
and over and the more I lead this
list the more important I feel "play" is to mental well being. I work
primarily in the Dot.com industry and I saw how folks who worked 80
hours a week bled their personal life of time and energy, making
"work" all the more important to their personal expression and sense
of self esteem.
It's not unusual for Americans to work long hours, to feel that work
is more of a "family" than one's own blood kin. I see how "stay at
home" moms have to apologize because they are not in the work force
and I think this is not good for folks.
I agree with MaryKay the make up queen, she said "God first, Family
second, Work third". I learned that before I got into the Dot.com
world and kept is as a slogan for myself. If you don't have time to
worship, love your family and have quality time with them, then work
will default as your most important source of accomplishment. That
makes for some seriously screwed up folks when they get laid off in a
bad economy. Home, family, loved ones can't take the sense of betrayal
This is where we come in, this list, this medium of polymer clay and
the world of miniatures.
I was invited to join the MiniScenesAndThings list and made Moderator
of MSATClayArt just months before I got laid off from AOL. I worked
there in New Technologies during the height of the Dot.com boom, 4
years at the same job, which was a record for me. Because I had the
good fellowship of my list members, playing with clay, exercising my
imagination with miniatures, when I got laid off I didn't weep a tear.
I was a happy duck and stayed away from the work force for as long as
Run awayyyy to clayyyyy
My sense of self esteem, creative self expression was played out here,
on the list, with clay and with my claymates. My family was still very
important as you can tell with all my stories about my grown children,
my grandchildren and meeting my half-sisters for the first time at my
father's funeral. My belief in God prevents me from putting bosses on
pedestals and worshiping them. When any coworker says "I just adore my
boss." I remind them of the First Commandment and that idol worship
hurts the spirit. They would look at me like I was crazy.
I stayed at home with my children as long as I could. I worked when I
had to. I took my vacations and didn't think of my job a lick when I
was off work. With the Dot.com bust, the economy turning sour I saw a
lot of folks who were "riding high" on the crest of the Boom fall
without any safety net when the Bust happened. A death in the family,
a divorce, or physical injury couldn't have hurt these people more
than loosing that job. It's not the money. For they never had the time
to spend and enjoy the money they were making while working 16 hour
There was this one Dot.com company that issued a futon (Japanese bed)
to each new employee, no joke, because folks would be expected to work
so late they needed to spend the night. I worked in a building that
had a full kitchen, showers, washer and dryers, for the same purpose.
Now if we're working so much that we never see our loved ones, can't
guide our children, go to Church, or put time into our communities
like a good citizen, what does that say about the work ethic that
expects us to sacrifice all that so others can turn a profit? Am I
ranting, you bet I am.
Wage work does not define the artist, it's our day job.
Actress/Waitress, Writer/Teacher, they are common pairings. I feel it
is important to work to live, but not live FOR work. There has got to
be time to be a person and do what people do. Meet, greet, love, bond,
be related, engage in ceremony of significance... fill in the blank
for the spiritual and metaphysical practice of your choice. There has
got to be time to feed our souls, exercise our hearts and let our
brains just run wild with fantasy and invention.
We are not put on this world to work, go shopping for food, do chores,
watch a bit of TV and fall out and do it again, suffering horrid
commutes and road rage. Why are people so harsh right now? Why are
there series on TV that are mean spirited and cruel? Any of the
unrealistic "reality" shows, Joe Millionaire, let's lie and cheat for
money? What's that all about? The Howard Stern laugh at people's
imperfections sort of mean spirited humor?
I think folks just don't know how to channel their anger with being
sold a fundamentally bad set of goods with this work yourself to death
culture we got going on here. Going Postal. I don't have to explain
this phrase, it's part of the popular lexicon, when unfulfilled
expectations at work blow up into disappointment feeding frustration
and rage. It's like math the way it works. If folks only focus on the
false trinkets of "worker of the week awards" and don't feed their
hearts and souls with real creative effort they will go postal if that
job comes to an end, if that coworker "who is like a sister" doesn't
invite you to a luncheon with others. That sort of emotional
attachment is meant for our families, our communities, our
congregations. Not work. Work is where we earn a wage without feeling
diminished, so we can live our real lives.
People don't wake up on a work day and say "Oh Goodie, I get to go
have Fun now, boy o boy." If all one thinks of is work, is tied to
work with electric leashes of cell phones and wireless laptops even on
one's personal time, then ya might think of turning the cell phone
off, putting the laptop away, and getting out some clay for a few
hours a day. For life without creative expression is the life of a
A lot of our claymates might never have worked in the workforce, not a
formal job. But they've been caregivers, to children, siblings and
parents. They did their duty and bore them well. What this list offers
these claymates is to allow them to think about themselves first. I
always say you're the most important person at your work table. The
reason my tutorials don't have exact measures in weight or size is
because I want you to pick your own colors, make as much or as little
as you wish. I want you to ask yourself what is it that you want to
make for your own enjoyment.
A human's natural state is bliss. Why did we get the gift of laughter
if we weren't supposed to find something amusing? Which leads me to my
gig here on the list. I feel it is absolutely imperative that we have
fun, ok? That you only have to please yourself, nobody else. It is
important to me that you have a safe environment to be a beginner, for
beginners are spoiled like pretty babies here.
Not poking your eyes like Curley in the Three Stooges, either. DOINK,
nerk nerk nerk.
Through writing, pictures and the live demo I'm here to incite a riot.
I want folks to get so worked up that they just got to get up and do a
little happy dance because of it. I want folks to look forward to our
gatherings in demo with "Oh Goodie, Now we really get to have fun now,
boy o boy." and mean it, experience it.
For if we're not having fun, feeling safe enough to experiment and
discover stuff, then what's the darned point of all this sound and
fury? I've written rambles about not feeling guilty for indulging our
creative energies. We've given so much to so many for so long what's
the dang problem with giving ourselves a moment to play, to get lost
in a room box the size of a box of matches... nay, made in a box of
matches, like Lenora of Huston, TX, did a whole diner in a match box
with 1/144 scale. But I digress...
A couple of claymates thanked me for what I do for the list, how I
keep enthusiastic and I feel this ramble is part of my explanation as
to why I do what I do here. I feel it is very important to play. To
make something with your own hands, that came from your own
inspiration and delight in discovery, and share it with your
claymates. They can say "WOW" and that is good for your sense of
accomplishment and self esteem. It's so tactile as well, and if you
get to learn while laughing, if you learn while forming bonds of
friendships then you'll get that sense of increased self worth while
being encouraged to just please yourself. It's a win-win-win
situation. You're happier, your family is happier because you are,
they get your gifts of clay things and they get wildly happier even
more so. For after we make things we can give them as gifts and amaze
our friends and family, making that bond stronger. You have not only a
right to create art, but a duty, to yourself, to your family and your
community. To be a well rounded you. Just as we need to eat right,
exercise, we need to play, for we are mental creatures with a
penchants to fiddle. So it's important to play.
That's my rant and I'm sticking to it.
Monthly Highlights Since 8/2003
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