Editor’s Letter: Learning to play

Hello Dear Marshmallow Peeps!

As we edge towards the end of another very weird school year I am, as usual, flooded with too many thoughts about too many things and it is difficult for me to focus. In this country, there is a tiny speck of light at the end of the pandemic tunnel giving us the first rays of hope while in countries like India, where I have family and friends, the pandemic rages on and it is still a dire situation. The paradoxes of the current times are extreme. And oddly, what has gotten me through this strange period thus far is recognizing the paradoxes and sitting with the contradictions they bring. As the world’s problems seem to be ever growing and complex,  in my own little microcosm at home, the pandemic gave me a chance to slow down as the lockdowns happened which, in turn gave me time to pause, reflect, and be more mindful in my day-to-day activities. I lost touch with a number of friends that live locally, right here in my same town, yet I reconnected with old friends and have daily text-based conversations with them which I have found very grounding and comforting. Eat The Marshmallow has suffered a major slow down because of the pandemic by losing access to all of our contributing writers due to the flood of new responsibilities and obligations born of the “brave new world” the pandemic created. And yet because of this blow to our online magazine, I reconnected with my own artistic practices and found many online communities of artists making very interesting and compelling work during these more isolating times. As a whole, the pandemic gave the world a giant collective goal– trying to bring about the end of said pandemic, but at the same time, has forced us all to recognize that so very many things are beyond our control. Not an easy fact to sit with for such a goal-oriented society.

I was just beginning to read professor of psychology and philosophy at UC Berkeley, Alison Gopnik’s last book, The Gardener and the Carpenter, which looks at how children learn and what we can learn by understanding their developmental learning processes. The book, so far, has mentioned how goal-oriented we become as adults as opposed to a more explorative frame of mind as children. She argues that we adults could actually learn a lot by what children teach us through play. Play is often described as a child’s work, but I often bristle at the use of the word “work” in that phrase. Play is a child’s purpose, to explore in an open-ended manner and to discover the world around them. Professor Gopnik points out that the child’s brain is developmentally built for doing exactly this as opposed to the adult brain, which is far more task oriented and self-editing.

What if, as adults, we took moments out of our day to be in a “play” mentality. What does play look like for adults? It might be a nice relief to let go of expectations and allow ourselves to be open in our thoughts. We would probably gain different insights and perspectives on problems we are always troubleshooting in the back of our brains. At the very least, it could bring little bits of joy back into our daily lives. Who doesn’t need a little more joy and levity in their lives, right? So as we slowly pull out of this time of pandemic and re-create the world we want to live in, paradoxes and all, perhaps one of these paradoxical goals is takings a lesson from our children– bringing back the element of play to our adult lives? It could be well worth the whimsy.

As always, in gratitude to you, our readers,

Anouck

 

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