Have you ever observed kids play? You surely have noticed the amount of focus and immersion required in these fun activities. And the same amount of focus for them goes into drawing, reading a comic book, or building something.
What would happen if we didn’t allow kids to play? That’s right, no more running, hiding, fighting, building, exploring, having adventures until they are 18!
That would be insane… In fact, cartoonist Lynda Barry argues that without play, children would go crazy. Maybe that’s one of the reasons why there are dysfunctional families, psychopaths, entire generations and countries where people live in war zones who have seemingly lost their humanity.
Play is a basic human act, primary to our psychological and physical survival. Creativity is primary to our survival too because brain activity when someone writes or draws or plays an instrument is similar to when kids play with each other.
Play inevitably produces laughter which has all kinds of healing benefits. Kids laugh 300 times on average and adults - only 5 times on average. Who is happier on average?
We as adults don’t play that much anymore. If we had to give an answer, the most obvious would be - we don’t have the time. We have to make a living.
I haven’t played for fun a few months now. The last time I remember was with Ausra’s brother’s dog. We ran around our garden like crazy. It was so much fun. Exhausting but really fun. The kind of fun you wish it could continue indefinitely.
Instead of playing, I had to find other ways to have fun and laugh. We watch movies a lot. Especially comedies. After a couple of hours of a good stand up or a comedy, I feel whole again.
I feel the same when I draw Pinky and Spiky comic strips. I like to laugh at those silly characters and their actions. When I start drawing them, at first I don’t know what they will say. But as soon as they appear on the paper, they start interact with each other. Actually, I have to make them stop because they won’t shut up.
I also try to live my days while looking for those moments around me which could go into Pinky and Spiky comic strips. Doing this, also helps me resolve conflicts and dramas with kind of self-irony and don’t overreact, sometimes even don’t engage with toxic people (although I still have plenty to learn in this area).
When I see myself or others do or say something annoying, I make a mental note, sometimes a real note in my notebook and wait for the moment to turn it into a comic strip. It is fun.
I’ll tell what else is fun for me - improvising on the organ. While I do this, I can be myself, completely relaxed, detached from the outside world and forget everything.
Nowadays drawing and improvisation are my favorite forms of play. What is yours?