Shirin McArthur

prayerful pondering

Play and Poetry

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I’m reading a book entitled Play Everything. In it, Ian Bogost posits some interesting ideas about play. He’s a philosopher and game creator and has clearly thought deeply about the subject of fun. One of his first illustrations is about pulling his daughter through a crowded mall and how she turns this journey along the ceramic tiles into a version of the “don’t step on any cracks” game. He speaks about how she moved beyond the boredom and even misery of being dragged through the mall and found a new, fun perspective in order to transform her experience.

I couldn’t help but think about how this transformational change in perspective is similar to what poets do in crafting our works. We take words and images that have been used, used again, often overused, and find transformational perspectives on them. We use those new perspectives in exactly this playful, fun way—bringing forth something that wasn’t there before. Sometimes we also even do it out of a sense of desperation, as we seek to find meaning in certain situations….

Consider cotton candy. It’s a staple treat at most fairs. Perhaps you even tasted some when you took a child or grandchild to a state fair this fall. If you close your eyes and think back, you can probably imagine its airy sweetness melting on your tongue.

dsc_2415Here’s another one: storm clouds. Even without the help of this photo, your mind’s eye can easily conjure up a similar image. You can see them massing overhead, darkening the landscape, bringing rain, or the smell of ozone, perhaps also lightning with them. Take a moment to feel these clouds building and imagine your gut-level response to their approach….

Now consider this poem, which I wrote back in the summer. Notice what it does with storm clouds and cotton candy.

 Waking Dream

 

Storm clouds rumble underfoot

Lift your eyes to the sun

Degree by degree

Perspective brightens

Future unfolds

Stress washes away

 

Believe in your future

Embrace necessary storms

Welcome the fruit of your labors

Pickle juice cotton candy on the tip of your tongue

Where in your life might you need to embrace such a transformational perspective, on words, or malls (especially in the current “holiday shopping” season!), or some other area of your life? How might you invite your heart and soul to move beyond boredom or misery to embrace the “thisness” of the present moment and find a different perspective hidden within it?

How might this process enhance your experience of this Advent season?

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