workspace or playspace?
the world is your playground
that would be an inspiring line to throw at you. but this post is more about making a playground your world. we spend most of our time as children in playgrounds and playpens. as adults, however, we’re obsessed with workplaces, even when we’re working from home!
why do you need a workspace? well, the answer is obvious - to work of course. a space that offers you maximum output for your input. in other words a space which increases your productivity. that brings you into a magical state of being where you feel you’ve accomplished something of worth. the result is often decided and judged by others.
whether it’s a sandpit in your backyard or your crib as an infant, your earliest inhabited space is a playspace. take a minute before you read any further. close your eyes and imagine all the places in which you played as an adult. any space you’d define as conducive to play.
share that with anyone near you right now. ask them what their playspaces were like growing up. compare notes and you’ll find that such spaces are often similar.
do you remember the X-Men’s Danger Room? well, your school or college gym wasn’t as cool but it was a space devoted to training - an activity that begins as play but soon becomes work. that isn’t necessary a negative, but is that what you intended?
a training space is the middle ground between play spaces and work spaces. they offer constantly changing and challenging situations where there are no lasting consequences for mistakes made. it offers the opportunity to develop new skills without the possibility of danger or death.
return to innocence
play focuses on the experience of the present moment while work focuses on the outcome of the current experience. both are different states of being, and thus require different physical spaces to be in.
let’s attempt to return to that state of innocence where the outcome is not the impetus for action. let’s create a space that invites one to play - for the sake of play and nothing* else.
an outdoor space is always ideal when choosing to create a playspace. you can’t go wrong even if there are bugs aplenty and street sounds all around. embracing the natural environment is both grounding as well as inspiring.
if it isn’t possible to be outdoors, create a space that while indoors still has plenty of light and air coming in. find a way to allow nature to enter and entertain. like a window which allows you to see the sunset every evening.
a playspace unlike a workspace or a training space should be absolutely safe and reassuring. emotional safety is as important as physical safety, so don’t surround yourself with anything even remotely stressful or disturbing.
take a look at a kindergarten space and an office space. the most stark difference is the lack of colour in an adult’s world. let’s flip that. funk up your space with your favorite colours and even your not so favorite colours. personal choice is not as important as you may believe.
more important than the objects in your play space is the emptiness of the space itself. ensure there’s enough room to crawl on all fours and roll around when you feel like it. the same holds true for mental space. leave a bunch of empty whiteboards hanging on the wall to inspire you to explore.
have a few random objects (toys if you will) strewn around. pick them up, throw them around, jump around them and explore the tactile and spatial experience. what can you do with a chair besides sit on it? Elvis would have to your dance with it.
If you can’t find a partner use a wooden chair…
playmates are vital to the spirit of a playground and gifts are equally important in lighting up the spirit of a playmate. keep candy handy to share with anyone who comes into your playspace. never underestimate the power of food to set the mood. play is hard work after all!
this isn’t a DIY manual on how to build a playspace. but it definitely intends to inspire and instigate a spirit of play in you. one that you can nurture by creating a shrine. a holy place for your inner child. remember as a child we always played in public so don’t hesitate to invite others in to play. would love to see what your playspace looks like!
It is the child in man that is the source of his uniqueness and creativeness, and the playground is the optimal milieu for the unfolding of his capacities and talents - Eric Hoffer