If you’ve been following along the last couple of weeks, I’ve been writing about the importance of feeding our curiosity and some simple ways to do that. I think a key part of feeding our curiosity can include allowing ourselves to play. If you look up the definition of the verb “play”, you’ll probably read something along the lines of recreation and entertainment, maybe involving children. I even came across one definition that implied it wasn’t for a practical purpose.
I think I’d have to disagree with that sentiment though because playing is not just for children, and it can serve very practical purposes! When I wrote about feeding my curiosity last week, one of the things I wanted to try was to “See what happens when I try to dye paper or fabric with tea”. Now there is some serious play involved with this and you can see the results of my experimentation below. But as I played, there were also 5 things I realized about this activity that were super-important and very practical reminders:
Playing forces me to re-examine my expectations (and if I should even have any.) I mean, the whole point of pursuing curiosity is to delve into something new, right? That means whatever I’m doing probably won’t be “perfect” the first time. Or the second. Or maybe even the tenth. This type of “play” is entirely about learning and exploring. And while I might be disappointed at something not turning out the way I hoped the first time, that just means I have permission to keep playing!
Playing helps remove my fear and invites me to take creative risks. If I enter these activities with the right perspective and eliminate any expectations about how something will turn out, it helps to squash any fear I have about “failing”. I mean, does a kid fear “failing” at playing with Barbies? I don’t think so. So I should not fear “failing” at my play and pursuit of curiosity either. I just need to keep taking steps and trying new things and have fun while I’m at it! I’m taking creative risks without even realizing it.
Playing “fills my well” because it’s fun! This is an important one - pursuing and feeding curiosity should be fun! It’s an experiment! An adventure! I need to enjoy it! I think you’ll find, like I did, that when you pursue something that you’ve really wanted to try, it’s life-giving and refreshing. It “fills your well” and re-energizes you. We all need more of this, both as a gift to ourselves and the people around us.
Playing can lead to breakthrough. Pursuing curiosity and playing isn’t only good for us, but it can help us connect the dots on something that we couldn’t see before, or open us up to new ideas. This is how problems get solved and people get inspired. I’m determined to keep at this play, waiting for my “ah-ha” moments, and then I’ll play some more!
Playing needs to be a priority. Now that I’m on this journey of purposely feeding my curiosity, I realize more and more how important it is. So important, in fact, that maybe it even needs to be scheduled. Not that I want to take the fun out of it by making it a task, rather I want it to be a priority. It’s easy for play to be crowded out by the urgent just like Christina Crook notes in her Uppercase magazine article. I’m trying to take time several days a week to keep pushing in these areas of exploration because I know these times are so important on many levels.
So with all that in mind, I did attempt painting with tea and then adding some watercolors to it. I still have far more playing to do. And I hope you do too!
What are you playing at this week as you pursue curiosity?