I put this post in the ‘Spirituality’ section of our blog for two reasons: first because I think play is a wonderful spiritual exercise, and second because it gave me the opportunity to include a couple of great quotes on the subject. The first is from Seth:
“I communicate with your dimension, for example, not by willing myself to your level of reality, but by imagining myself there. All of my deaths would have been adventures had I realized what I know now. On the one hand you take life too seriously, and on the other, you do not take playful existence seriously enough.” ~ Seth Speaks, session 518.
The second is from the Conscious Creation site:
Trying to Explain and Being the Child
It is not explainable. As soon as we begin to explain, you move back into analytical thought. Explanations, even the word tells you it’s not the right direction. So, how to convey this, this unbearable lightness of being. This child in you knows it is very good to reconnect in this way, through the child. It also presents the challenge that most of you have so disconnected from your child. That your attempts at childlike behavior are maudlin caricatures, sad caricatures indeed. Adults TRYING to be children. From where you stand, you can see that TRY does not enter the vocabulary of the natural child. BE, is the word which describes the experience. You understand through previous experience that all a child ever really does is play along with. There are no hard fast rules in childhood. At least none that the child recognizes. Everything is exciting. Everything is adventure. Everything, every moment, is new opportunity. This is because the child knows the magical essence of physical experience. The self within the child is still excited about the idea of being here. YIPPEE!!! And the overwhelming fascination with the raw experience of each moment completely outweighs any set of rules the rational mind might try to come up with.
And so the child is free to experience and does so. This is precisely your new connection. The immediacy of the moment has won the day, has become more primary than any knowing the rational mind might seek to impose. And of course, from the outer perspective, this is an outrageous and dangerous thing . . .
. . . For it requires the complete and utter disregard of fear. There is nothing to fear, it says. And most of you adults could fill volumes with all the lists of things there are to fear. And so a linear path through these fears would take more lifetimes than you have, if you were to try to dissect each one and set it aside. The only way is to dive in and step across and over, past the land of fear, and back into the land of magic. You have done this by reminding yourselves over and over of the nature of reality and the nature of your being, while at the same time placing yourself in the midst of the outer perspective where everything in you screamed that this was not the way. And indeed, it is not. You can see the road behind you now that led you here. And yet the subtle textures and shades are already changing. Because without the fear in your vision, the vision is altered. The road is still there however, and it is this gift that you bring, for you have traveled it, which means that others may travel it too.
But you see immediately as you start talking about the passageway, the journey, the culture you are in will begin to see words like lesson, teaching, understanding, and you will be back in school and nobody can find this road if they are in school. You have to get back out of school, get into the woods, get into the sky, get into the smell of grass in the summertime. That is where your child lives. In the feeling of cool sheets and the smell of fresh linen. In those places where each of you were at once present and magical and thrilled to be there. We suggest that if others are to try to comprehend or if you are to try to communicate what this is, that you do so in the context of humor and remember the idea of soda pop. (bubbly, fizzy, happy, fun) For truthfully, the idea of teaching people . . . adult people . . . to remember how to play is in itself a ridiculous picture. And yet somehow it is also what is required.
This is why you have had to travel through your own vocabulary. This is why you had to become in new relationship with ideas of responsibility, creation, and the nature of reality. Your spontaneous creative nature is perfect, once you remember it. And remembering it requires that you recreate yourself in a new context. You can see from here that your ideas of responsibility and adult behavior are part of the box that holds you in fear. And once you are free of it, there is no enticement great enough to convince you to pick it up again.
From this new place, you will be designing a life that will be completely different from the life you have led. For every moment will be a new opportunity. Everything will change. Every relationship. Every experience. This is the new world you have entered. This is the new world of your creation. As you step into it, remain aware. As you step into it, notice how it is different. And take the time to appreciate it. For that is a part of the new experience. You have grasped the whole of it and now can claim it and live in it. All you need do is remain open. You have rightly perceived a change. You have rightly perceived that you are now within the magical. We encourage you to stay there. You will perceive opportunities to move in and out of this new world as you move along and become more familiar and reacquainted with your natural self. Remember, in those moments of discomfort, to ask yourself where you are. If you will do this and if you will remind yourself, of the new world you may inhabit at choice, then it will be simple to build your experience solidly in this new world.
Do exactly as you please, follow each impulse, do not use fear as a guidepost for anything other than a way to change direction. If there is fear, change direction, and do the thing that feels okay, that feels good, that brings you back to your ease. No matter how ridiculous or ill conceived it may seem. You cannot use the judgments of the outer perspective any longer. They will consistently and irrevocably take you in the wrong direction and so when they poke up their little heads, simply smile at them and remind yourself that you are no longer interested in their opinion. Ask the magical self what it would like to do instead. And your answers will always lead you back to yourself, back to this new place. And being here, how could you ever choose anything but this? So run along and play. Play, play, play! We suggest to you that seriousness is a disease you have just been cured of. (laughing)
Okay, so now that I’ve got you into a proper (playful) mindset, I still remember when I got my Spirograph set for Christmas as a kid. I was in awe of it at first, and when I could get it away from my older sister I invested hours with it. Sure, it was a little clunky and moved sometimes because it came with a cardboard backing for the plastic bits and some little straight pins that were supposed to hold those plastic bits in place and sometimes the pins came loose. Didn’t matter. The idea that I could take these gears and some colour pens and make drawings was just a “Wow!” for me. I didn’t know (and wouldn’t have understood) the words hypotrochoid and epitrochoid, nor any of the complex mathematical geometry behind it; I also didn’t care. I was making art, and it was fun. As I got older I began using graph paper, set squares and compass sets to design my own graphics.
When I was older and got into computers (was there really a time before computers? Yeesh!) I remember writing Basic programs to convert x/y coordinates into drawings using a (at the time very expensive) pen plotter on which we created maps. And after I got CorelDraw I could use the electronic equivalents of set squares and compass sets and really have fun. One of the simplest but most profound of these for me was the idea that you could generate a curve using only straight lines, like this:
Of course from that design there were many other possibilities, like these:
And with a ellipses one can create:
Now, not everyone has access to CorelDraw or Illustrator or programs like that. Fortunately, in the internet age you don’t have to! You can create your own images online, and you don’t even need to know how to work out the math.
Here’s an example, from Anu Garg (NB: JAVA is required to run this applet – you can embed the code in your own website too!) Try moving the sliders and see what happens!
Over at Math Playground you can play with Spirograph Math too! And here’s a free kaleidoscope maker from zefrank.com. There’s The Official Online Spirograph from the folks at MIT, and another online SpiroGraph from David Little at Penn State University. Or you might want to try Zentangles instead.
(Editor’s note: No instructions are provided…. that’s obviously part of the play!) Some of these sites have other games you can play as well, and the 2011 version of the Hasbro Spirograph is still available too.
Update, February 6, 2015. Try Nathan Friend’s Inspirograph too! Use your mouse to select the gears and pen colours, and use the arrow keys to move the gear to create the pattern.
If you want to move a bit beyond geometry, try fractals. We use both Tierazon and Apophysis software, but others are also available. Just do a search on fractals and you’ll find a number of sites. Tierazon is no longer available, but Apophysis still is. You can see some of the fractals we’ve come up with here:
While not quite fractals, we find Silk – Interactive Generative Art quite addicting.
This is one kind of play, but play should also involve more. There’s a whole world out there! Get outside, move, wrestle with your kids… Set aside work, responsibilities and schedules. Do whatever you can do to limber up your imagination. In a word, PLAY!!
Check this out to see what you might be missing: Play Again