#OneWord365: Play

I’ve been thinking about my One Word 365 for 2017 since September.

2016 was a whole china shop of tempests in teapots–ups and downs and upsidedowns, both globally and personally. My word from 2016, “Flow”, got me through a bunch of rough patches because it gave me the reminder I needed to work with what I had and to be more adaptable in the face of change. For 2017, I’m anticipating a really BIG year–there are a few huge transitions on the horizon. I’m graduating from Glendon this year, and my partner is moving from the States up to Toronto. With so many important things taking off, it feels like I need a really solid intention to help carry me through.

I toyed with a bunch of potential candidates: authenticity, inspiration, yin, curiosity. They all speak to me on different levels, but on a larger scale they didn’t fit. They weren’t representative of the bigger, broader mindset I need to learn and apply to myself and my life this year. After lots of yoga and meditation and quiet contemplation, I finally settled on one:

Play!

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I always liked how “Flow” was a verb. I connect better to actions than to states or to descriptive adjectives–when I repeat it as a mantra it feels more like an encouragement, or a loving imperative. It feels like “go do this right now!” And one thing I definitely need to do more of now is playing.

Lots of people are in the same boat as me, apparently. Maria Popova (of Brainpickings fame) published a beautifully-worded article on the importance of leisure in human lives. And just recently I read an essay from The Guardian critiquing society’s obsession with efficiency and productivity. We are a people who take everything far too seriously–our grades, our jobs, our reputations. We don’t know how to unwind. We don’t know how to let loose. We don’t know how to have fun.

I’m not very good at having fun these days. Between my degree, my 2.5 jobs, and my long-term art projects, I leave very little time for aimless meandering. I feel guilty when I watch more than two Youtube videos in a row (even if they’re full of really interesting information!), I feel guilty when I go out with friends instead of putting that time into my art, I feel guilty when I dabble in a skill or flick through a book instead of committing wholeheartedly to it. Guilty guilty guilty.

I want to relearn how to flirt with life. I want to relearn how to look at it as a game. And I want to relearn how to play that game.

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Halfway through January and I’m already trying to embed this new mindset into everything I do. I speak often and openly these days about dismantling North America’s workaholic culture, about decreasing the number of demands on my plate, about reclaiming time to wonder and wander and be creative without any particular goal in mind. It’s tough work, especially because so much of my identity revolves around my achievements. If I’m not putting every minute of the day towards creating something Big and Important, I’m wasting time–that’s how I’ve been living for about a decade now.

But I remember a time before that. I remember being young. I remember doodling stacks of drawings without regard to their quality, devouring books for the sheer pleasure of reading, running around playing vivid games of make-believe with friends in the woods. I remember doing things for no reason other than one, the best reason, the most important: because I felt like it at the time.

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In the spirit of that celebratory outlook, here’s a list of ways I want to open myself up to playing the game of 2017, punctuated ENTIRELY in exclamation points because I’m really trying to get the enthusiastic vibe goin’ here:

  • Dabble in more skills! Piano! Ceramics! Aromatherapy! Pole dancing! Publishing! Serbo-Croatian! Taste them like delicious morsels at the best buffet table ever!
  • Go on more adventures! Ask friends who are well-versed in Toronto (like Jasmin or Francesca) for recommendations! Extra points for trying things that are out of my comfort zone and/or are things I’ll probably feel silly doing!
  • Talk to my friends more! Set up more Skype dates with long-distance/international pals! Invite more folks to have tea in my apartment!
  • Give myself permission to flirt with ideas and career paths! Embrace unexpected opportunities!
  • Collaborate more! Make silly things and funny things and touching things and Important Things with members of my community!
  • Laugh at successes!
  • Laugh at failures!
  • Laugh more in general!

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Paradoxically, it’s going to be hard work reminding myself not to work so hard. It’s going to take serious effort not to be so serious. But I think with the help and encouragement of everyone around me, I can remind myself to be a little more leisurely every day.

Here’s to a very playful 2017!

~Sisi

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