Thursday, June 4, 2009

Playfulness loves Imperfection

Since reading a blog post by Christine Kane last week about taking "imperfect action," I've been thinking a lot about perfectionism as an enemy of playfulness. Nothing kills creative, playful ideas like a dose of perfectionist thinking. As Christine says, waiting until your effort, action, or creation is "perfect" before you try it or put it out there in the world is a great way to ensure that it never gets out there at all. 

I know all too well how effectively perfectionist thinking can prevent me even from trying to get an idea out of my head (so many great ideas!) and into writing, or painting, or some other form of human action. "What if I fail? What if I mess it up/botch it/hate what I do/waste all that paint/make a fool of myself, etc.?" (Perfectionism may help me to reach for high standards, but it sounds a lot like the voice of fear, does it not?)

To which an obvious reply might be: "And what if you never try? How likely are you to succeed that way?"

Several months ago in my other blog, I wrote a post about Ms. Frizzle, the eccentric creative teacher of "The Magic Schoolbus" fame. In particular, I cited one of her favorite expressions as great advice for creative undertakings, curious explorations, and certainly for learning to play. "Take chances! Get messy! Make mistakes!"

Imperfect actions might be imperfect, but they are a whole lot better than no action at all! They make forward movement possible, even probable. The air begins to feel more charged with possibilities! And often the messes and mistakes lead to new discoveries, new ideas, and even to the kind of happy accident that's better than anything you could have ever planned.

Maybe I'll make it a "spiritual practice" to take at least one deliberately imperfect action a day! Who knows where it will get me, but I'm curious to find out--one imperfect, playful action at a time.

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