Day 29: Levels
Woooo welcome to Day 29 ! This marks only 2 more days of play prompts before you are crowned an official master and Playing. How ya feelin' today? Where did MUSIC bring you over the past 24 hours? Did you allow it to inspire your play, or become an expression of your own? Did you have an epic dance party in your kitchen this morning, or find yourself singing a bit more freely in the shower?
I have to admit - MUSIC is such a constant presence in my daily experience, I hardly noticed I was playing today at all. I actually got home from work and felt disappointed in myself for not playing. But wait --- is that really true? Nope completely far from it. I spent all last night listening to my favorite Spotify playlist of the moment, admiring my collector at play who has a particular knack for pulling out these songs that are SO different from one another, yet all share some sort of connecting thread that I just can't really put my finger on. Most people who listen to my playlists would agree that they can span a large number of musical styles, decades, and emotions. But for me that is exactly the beauty of MUSIC. It is transformative in its ability to guide you through that emotional journey almost as a background process where you hardly notice you're doing deep processing all while having fun. But hey pop quiz here - do you recognize it as that? As having fun while you are listening? Or is it obscured within the.... LEVELS of your experience?
Today I am thinking about LEVELS in my music, and in my play. Music is what really brought this to my attention along with a slight nudge on my playful path. You see, music is never one flat sound. A single sound is comprised of different LEVELS of noise that register as one complete sound to your ear. Stereo sound is a completely different experience than mono source sound because of the LEVELS of immersion it offers you. What you hear in your favorite song that comes on shuffle is yes just a song, but dissect it in some editing software and you will find that it is made up of layers upon layers of variant sound. LEVELS give us depth, and fullness, a sense of wholeness because only by experiencing the lowest lows can you appreciate the highest highs. And wouldn't you know it, Play is exactly the same way.
Major and Minor
Let's talk a little bit about Play in terms of LEVELS of major, versus minor. That moment when you throw a song on your headphones, is that minor play? Finding a brand new arcade arena to play in - major play? If playing is not just playing with a capital P but in reality a spectrum of playful LEVELS ranging from low to high, where can we establish new awareness around playful levels and how we use them to our benefit when playing may not come as easily or accessibly?
When I was searching for inspiration for today in my music ,and noticing the dynamic quality in the LEVELS of my music I remembered a chapter from The Playful Path by Bernard De Koven.
"Major fun is, well, major. Fun that is so much fun that we are willing to risk life and limb to taste it, even if only for a second.... Minor fun is the chewing gum kind of fun, even the washing dishes kind of fun that comes with the warm water and emerging sparkle and the meditation-like expanse of timelessness that ends when the sink is empty. The problem is that it's the major kinds of fun that get all the press. That's the kind of fun that soft drink commercials are made of. The other, the ordinary kind of fun goes for the most part unnoticed, barely felt. Which is precisely why so many of us think we aren't having fun... So all the commercial dollars... the ultimate expression of all-consumingly major fun - leave us, for the most part, in the shadows of despair, feeling that everything else we do is dreary, funless. Which has the effect of raising the fun threshold to the point that hardly anything ever feels fun enough. Which is fine for the commercial powers, but not so good for us, the fun-seeking many, who buy and buy in to the the belief that minor fun is not fun enough to be considered fun at all." (233)
This part of his book really left me dumbstruck. Have I really been taking minor play for fun? I started by taking a mental inventory of what I classify as minor fun - listening to a song I like, washing the dishes (yes I am all in on that meditative water flow space), seeing a vibrant color, hearing birds chirping in the morning, reading a dumb pun, making a funny face at a friend I pass at work, noticing small coincidences in the world around me. All of these are examples of LEVELS of minor fun, but that I am quick to dismiss. And why? Because it doesn't live up to the picture perfect media image I think it should be? PFFTT. So really today I am making it official : we are going to reclaim these minor LEVELS of play, along with celebrating our major play moments alongside. By taking back what Bernard calls "the fun of loving anything, of caring about anything, of caring for, of helping, of healing" we are tossing that capital P aside and allowing ourselves to nest play with our everyday "mundane" moments. And let me tell you friend.... there is no better way to inception your brain into having some fun than by infusing as many normal tasks as you care to with playful moments of joy.
Start with a list of things that you do for no reason. A list of pleasures that you give, and that you get. See how many creative ways you can come up with for really working with the LEVELS of your play and allowing space for those quiet and small bits to shine as brightly as the mighty and loud ones. Take a small playful moment, a single room, and stack it with others to build a grand fun house. Or, think about your play as a stacked Jenga tower. What happens on the lower levels while you are blocked on the upper levels? What major play might be fun, but could topple your tower? Overall, think about how many LEVELS of play you can explore from minor easy-access playing, to major all-out life defining play. And remember - Jenga towers are meant to be toppled from time to time, so don't be afraid to experiment with the LEVEL of your play whether major or minor! All's well in play as long as you are having fun.