About Rowena

Hello, my name is Ro, and I believe that it is possible for you to turn your ordinary life into an extraordinary life - to find true happiness, while remaining, selfless, mindful and compassionate towards other living beings. Here at my blog, I interview and post articles by musicians, writers, world travelers, humanitarians and other amazing individuals who are doing just that. I also share with you various anecdotes about my own totally awesome existence as a musician, composer, journalist, environmentalist, and compassionati. My hope is to connect with you, enlighten you, inspire you and lead you down the path to true happiness. Compassion is always in fashion and it starts with you loving that most important of people, yourself.

July 22, 2011

The Myth Behind the Work/Play Distinction

The master of the art of living makes little distinction between his work and his play, his labor and his leisure, his mind and his body, his education and his recreation, his love and his religion. He hardly knows which is which; he simply pursues his vision of excellence in whatever he does, leaving others to decide whether he is working or playing. To him he is always doing both.  ~♥~ Buddha

This is one of my favorite quotes by the Buddha.  I find it to be quite true from my own experience.  Having blurred the lines of distinction to a great extent, I am generally at peace and happy with whatever I am doing.   Sometimes this kind of thinking causes my friends to smile at me, that and to offer to have me over to weed their garden, or clean their house, in which instance I recommend that they reacquaint themselves with the art of making mud pies, either that or fill their kitchen sink with mountains of soap bubbles and proceed to sculpt them so that they can be happy too.

Whether or not you agree that the blurring of the lines between work and play will make you a happier person, it is important to be aware of the vital importance of uniting work and play when it comes to today's world economy and America's ability to complete.

According to Laura Seargeant Richardson, a principal designer at frog design global innovation firm, and the keynote speaker at  MIT's Sandbox Summit last year: 
The division between work and play is a myth. If America is going to teach its youth to innovate, we need to unite the two. 
During her speech, Richardson suggested that "Play is the greatest natural resource in a creative economy" and in  her recent article in  The Atlantic:
"Eighty-five percent of today's companies searching for creative talent can't find it. In a recent IBM survey, 1,500 CEOs identified creativity as the number one leadership competency of the future. And the United Nations just released the Creative Economy Report of 2010, suggesting that creative countries are more economically resilient. As Tim Draper voiced in the documentary 2 Million Minutes, "America is the one country that doesn't seem to recognize that it is in competition for the great minds and capital of the world."
Whence came these harsh lines of distinction between work and play in the first place?  How did a country which loves play as much as ours miss the boat?

1.  Our parents.  Much as their parents before them, they were fearful that we would never find financial independence if we did not choose a profession that was practical.   It had nothing to do with whether or not we actually liked how we were to spend the rest of our lives.   We were raised in fear, we grew up fearful.

2.  Our educational system.  Way too soon our colorful crayons were taken away.   We were given pencils and lined paper - the world faded to black and white.     Art,  music and being allowed to go outside to and play, were not part of the curriculum, but merely the reward for staying within the lines, with art, music and sports being the first programs to be cut in times of financial crisis. We were given the message that creativity and play were frivolous and unimportant.

3.  Our society.   The mentality that work in and of itself is not necessarily supposed to make us happy and that our ability to withstand the unhappiness of a lifetime of drudgery, is a sign of good character.   We were taught that happiness would be found in all of the stuff that we could buy with the money that we earned. 

4.  Our blind acceptance.   We do what is expected of us, after all we have been carefully taught.   If we are unhappy and stuck in a soul crushing day job, there are pills to be prescribed to us through our days, and to help us sleep at night - to keep the blinders on.

So now what?

I have said many times in this blog, that it is never too late to pursue your passions - to find happiness - to do the things you have always wanted to do.   Likewise, it is never too late to break out the finger paints and modeling clay - to take a more creative approach to what you do for a living.   You may be too well trained to be completely comfortable with the concept, or too long in a certain position  to completely erase the lines of distinction between work and play, but you do have the ability to at least blur them a bit.   My ability to unite work and play  is what got me through 13 years of employment for a guy who lived in fear of thinking outside of the box.   Having my own vision of excellence enabled me to move mountains.  It was not my dream job, but I felt good about being and doing and leaving behind me a job well done.

Now go out and live your extraordinary life according to your own vision of excellence.  Don't be afraid to take a more creative and fun approach to all aspects of your life - it may be exactly what the world needs. Besides, keeping 'em guessing as to whether you are working or playing,when you are actually doing both, is a heck of a lot of fun.



  “Earth: We are all on this thing together.”

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