dance and play and work

Starman Dances with the Universe

A while back when we were talking about mantras, I mentioned this as one of my own that has stood the test of time. It’s helpful in times of chaos to find the things like this that can remind you that it’s possible to turn that stumble into a syncopated pas-de-chat and that if you roll with the falls momentum pushes you right up again.

Recently one of my readers, a friend and patron, forwarded me a wondrous and amazing thing: an excerpt from the Nerdist Podcast interview with Jeff Bridges. Now, while I do like Mr. Bridges, I confess that I’m more of a “Starman” or “TRON” fan, or even his reprisal of Rooster Cogburn (which may be blasphemous to my father; sorry, Dad).

But unlike many men my age, I never really saw the appeal of “The Big Lebowski”. That character has been given near messiah-like status by so many, and I confess I never really saw the point – perhaps I simply didn’t do enough mind-altering substances to get it.

Regardless, my friend insisted that I should listen to the section towards the end of the podcast, where Mr. Bridges talks about how he handles the frustration of having the vision of a movie (in this case, the Giver) not being what he originally envisioned:

“I came to a real interesting crossroads with that movie, because once I realized it was going to be made…I realized it was not going to be my vision, and I was very attached, you know? I had a decision to make, kind of like a marital decision: should I engage or not? Because I knew they were going to do things that were very different than how I imagined it.

I gave myself a little test, which I often do in these times, where I project myself into the future and ask myself ‘How am I going to feel if I let this go? How am I going to feel if I engage?’ I realized I would really feel shitty if I let it go, so I decided to do it. The context of the decision was just as an experiment. That’s usually the thing that makes my shift – just say ‘do a little experiment with yourself’. This is a chance for you to dance with the universe…Play! Play, you know, dance!”

Work as Play

We don’t do enough of that in our lives: play. That’s actually not opinion; it’s verifiable fact. According to “All Work and No Pay: The Impact of Forfeited Time Off,” a study by Oxford Economics:

American workers turned their backs on a total of 169 million days of paid time off, in effect “providing free labor for their employers, at an average of $504 per employee,” – CNN

That works out to $52.4 billion dollars, but that’s not really the big deal. That money is still around, somewhere, most likely in the boss’ pocket. Hey, at least it still has value. They could conceivably get that money back.

It’s the time that is the real crime there. The time that they earned, that they had a right to, when they could spend it with loved ones, or doing what fulfilled them, or…doing nothing. Playing.

Try this: you suddenly find out you have tomorrow off from work, and there’s absolutely nothing else around the house that needs doing. You’ve got the whole day to just play. What are you going to do?

If you have to think about it very long, you probably aren’t playing enough. If you can’t think of what you’d do with a free day, you definitely aren’t playing enough. Here’s the thing: every day is like that. As Jay Easton said in the interview I did with him, every day you make the choice – and if you are choosing not to play, I hope you are choosing something that is equally fulfilling. I think, personally, it’s better to choose work that is play, and since I’m overdue for the latter, I’ll simply leave you with words that have inspired me for years:

My object in living is to unite
My avocation and my vocation
As my two eyes make one in sight.
Only where love and need are one,
And the work is play for mortal stakes,
Is the deed ever really done
For Heaven and the future’s sakes.

– Robert Frost, Two Tramps in Mud Time



2 thoughts on “dance and play and work”

  1. It’s kind of interesting when you discover work is play or it morphs into play before you realize it. For instance, today I was mulching leaves on the front lawn. I didn’t want to do it. The bagger kept clogging and I could only cover about 1 1/2 traverses on the lawn before having to empty it. After about an hour, I gradually realized I was having a good time. Riding the tractor in manly fashion. Tromping thru the woods to empty the mulched leaves. Feeling the brisk wind on my face. It was almost a mountain man moment (if mountain men had lawn tractors). But you are right, if your work is play it isn’t work anymore. And I liked Bridges as Cogburn. Haven’t decided if I preferred him, but I liked him.

    1. Very reassuring to know that I’m not disowned for liking Bridges as Rooster. But yeah, I’ve had the same kind of reaction – it’s kind of right along the lines of what I write about in “The Defining Moment.” Usually it’s happening to me as I’m traveling, such as walking through the neon underground hallway at O’Hare airport. I’m tired, often jet lagged, often lugging equipment, but it’s that transformation of “Hey, this is actually pretty awesome…

      And frankly, if mountain men had lawn tractors available, I’m sure they would have used them. Much less work than a mule.

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