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Go Ahead, Play With Your Work

(Posing as the Evil Queen on the package of a Leg Avenue Halloween costume. Talk about getting to play at work!)

Welcome to “not my best post”.

I HAVE to post it, because until I do, I can’t post anything else. I cannot move onward until something else goes up. Has this ever happened to you? Waaaahhhh.

My creative pitcher has been empty for a couple of weeks, and instead of heading back to the source for a refill, I found myself staring dumbly into its hollow insides. Hello? Helloooo? …Echo!!! (echo…echo…echo…)

While slogging away on an entry I couldn’t get finished, I was forced to admit I was fresh out of juice. Too many withdrawals and not enough deposits. Hello, Rut! Sure, take me to my pattern of putting off work and biding my sweet time! I’ll bring wine.

Then I neglect creative growth activities, and favor passive activities that are done “to” me, like TV or mindless Internet-ing. Gateways to boredom spending, right?

Then when I’m writing, I become inarticulate and include words like "Internet-ing". I don’t even know if that’s a word! Is it?

In short, I’m bored. And I become a boring human being.

If I’m not rolling around in Life like a happy puppy, there is so much less to convince others to be excited about. And I don’t have much to share with the world when I start zoning out.

When work was slow this past August, I explored. Magellan-style, people. Like that was my job.

I clacked away on the keyboard. I took walks, tasted figs off the tree, breathed sea salt air, thought my thoughts, saw my friends…and worried a little bit.

But I DID more.

Then, September and October snuck up in a fury of phone calls and calendar marks… and I got too “busy” to read and think and play.

What a lie! I might have had fewer pockets of free time, but I could have spent them in total devotion to Life. I just didn’t. …Because the play seemed like work.

Playing, in the best and most beneficial sense, is actually the best rest available. True play takes energy, yes, but makes energy, too. Sort of like cooking a nutritious, time consuming meal.

And so I stole from myself. I stole my own time to make, to learn, and to do.

The times I sat down to write in the past few weeks, all I really wanted was the feeling of having written something.

But I know better. That can never be the reason I write, or do anything. Because it shows up in the work.

Elly, why do you sit down to write, or open your mouth to sing, or prepare yourself for the camera?

Are you actually serving the material?

Or do you just want to be liked?

Are you contributing towards a higher purpose? Is there goodness in it? Truth? Strength?

Or are you just doing it for the applause?

It reminds me of a podcast where Bryan Cranston talks about the moment he transitioned from a “nervous hopeful” into a focused, confident actor.

He stopped worrying about his auditions; quit dallying around hoping people liked him, and made the work at hand his only focus.

Everyone on the other side of the table knows right away which one we are. They can smell it on us, nearly instantaneously, the moment we enter a room.

Energy. That sh%t is real.

I know which one I want to be. Not just in auditions, but in Life. This is the difference between genuine humility and ego.

We have to do the work at hand, and let go of the excuses. There is nothing else to do, if we want to do it right.

I spent two days in Ann Arbor, Michigan this week, and traded my sandals for sweaters.

Breathing in cold air and kicking crunchy colored leaves, I read historical plaques and talked to eclectic shop owners. I pillaged old bookstores and ate macaroons and took pictures of art deco storefronts.

Then, sitting in the window of a warm teahouse, I drank a smoky brew and watched bundled-up people loving on the fall day…and I worked.

But this time, that universal battery—Gratitude—did its thing, and I took on a more positive charge. Playing without pressure. Momentum from simply doing.

Oh yeah, I remembered. I get to work. I get to play! I get to roll around in Life like a happy puppy. Let's go!

It might not be my best post, but I'm so glad to feel full again.

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