Play Is Creativity

David Price
Aug 7 · 3 min read
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Photo by Seth Casteel

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“[Comedies], in the ancient world, were regarded as of a higher rank than tragedy, of a deeper truth, of a more difficult realization, of a sounder structure, and of a revelation more complete. The happy ending of the fairy tale, the myth, and the divine comedy of the soul, is to be read, not as a contradiction, but as a transcendence of the universal tragedy of man…. Tragedy is the shattering of the forms and of our attachments to the forms; comedy, the wild and careless, inexhaustible joy of life invincible.”

Joseph Campbell

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For thousands of years many indigenous people knew this. Native Americans trusted the “Great Spirit” or the “Great Mystery” to provide all they needed — food, shelter, clothing, etc.

— Robert Roskind

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It’s that being open — not scratching for it, not digging for it, not constructing something but being open to the situation and trusting that what you don’t know will be available to you. It is bigger than your overt consciousness or your intelligence or even your gifts; it is out there somewhere and you have to let it in.

— Toni Morrison

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“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”
~ Rumi

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American culture valorizes overwork, which makes it easy to slip into a mindset that can breed success addiction. — Arthur C. Brooks

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Good things emanate; what you emanate now is the most important thing. And sing, dance, resist through art, joy, faith, and love.”🌎

— William Haskell

The mind that creates is open, relaxed and intensely playful. It’s having fun. It’s listening and responding. It is not proceeding from a formula or a set of rules. Learning the basics of your metier is only the first step in being able to create something engaging. After those basics are fully incorporated, you will need to learn to relax and let inspiration come to you. If you worry that it won’t come you’ll start to block it.

Play and fun are fundamental. Children and animals are intensely creative. They live in a creative state of mind. Adults have a harder time being creative because they have been taught to expect everything to function by formulas. They fear the unknown. They want to always be sure they’re going the right direction, that they won’t make a mistake.

Inspiration can light a little fire in your mind, that if you fan it can become a beautiful bonfire, but you proceed not by certainty but by love and receptivity. We artists are tightrope walkers. We constantly take chances between the known and unknown.

Our minds oscillate between active and passive. We learn to trust that the intelligent unknown will come to us when we need it, and if it doesn’t, we wait. If it still doesn’t we pick up the thread and proceed, knowing that some inspired idea is looking for us if we can keep an ear cocked. Creating is listening as much as it is acting.

When I paint, I sometimes break out into surprised, delighted laughter. That’s when I know I’ve happened across something worth keeping. Sometimes you go beyond yourself. Something unpredictable has materialized. That can’t happen if you stay in the realm of the “already known.”

Beginners think your talent and training give you creative powers, but those things can’t give you creativity. Creativity comes out of a receptive mind. If you can put aside what you know and make a clearing in your mind, things will come into that clearing that can be arranged into something that can be called “art.”

Making art is just paying attention.

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