Adam Blatner

Words and Images from the Mind of Adam Blatner

Becoming More Spontaneous

Originally posted on January 8, 2013

One of a number of chosen missions in life is to help people re-own their own natural potential for spontaneity and their capacity for exploratory playfulness. As Allee and I write in The Art of Play (which we’re presently re-writing), spontaneity and playfulness not in itself childish. Although its roots begin in early childhood, and it gets stifled in mid-childhood and beyond, in fact imaginative playfulness, like dancing or singing, could well be cultivated and channeled throughout life. (Yes, that might require a more enlightened culture, but that’s what I’m trying to help happen!)

If the thought occurs to you, “Oh, I can’t be spontaneous,” what you’re really thinking underneath that is that if you make a mistake while you are loosening control you’ll make a fool of yourself. But this is a misunderstanding of your social context. If you associate with others who are being spontaneous also in a setting where that’s what’s up, you’ll be granted room to fool around. We’re all exploring, so let’s be forgiving of ourselves and others, and expect that others will be similarly generous in spirit. (If they aren’t, then…. then we just won’t play with them! It’s their loss!)

You see, you are in fact being spontaneous all the time in small ways. It’s subtle and if you don’t think about it you hardly register that it’s happening. Some people are more consciously free in giving impulses free rein when it does no harm. Even a “bear with very little brain” (as Winnie-the-Pooh is sometimes described) is un-self-conscious enough to dare to make up simple songs, words and melody. They’re not impressive, but they’re cute.

My work is to offer you in writing both ideas for how to play and the theoretical justification for this activity. I hope to offer you the means for you to give yourself permission to experiment with your life, make up how you’ll dress today, improvise. Of course kids don’t even need theory to justify their foolin’ around—they’re, like, entitled. I’m just saying that we are too! Take care of business, then enjoy yourselves.

This is close to a kind of meditation. Instead of containing it as a thought or image that you register or ignore and let go, let it come through your body-mind and act it out in a setting where others are also improvising. Both ways involve a goodly measure of surrender blended 2/1 with responsibility.

The art of becoming curious about and cultivating your own spontaneity can take many forms—cooking, dancing, poetry, art, and some elements are mixed in with more deliberate activities, like gardening or home decorating. Sometimes it works best in solitude, sometimes it works better being around others doing their own thing, sometimes spontaneity emerges as one interacts with others as you play together or collaborate in some activity. I think a lot about imaginativeness and spontaneity, and am open for questions that might help me make it clearer for you.

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