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Deep Play

Clairity's picture

"This is much worse than what I thought it would be!" "Why is nobody else on the road?" "But it's actually better if no one is here. A stranger walking behind me would creep me out even more..." "No, this is too scary! I don't want to do this any more..." "Come on, you can do it!" My mind was playing wildly as I was walking alone down the downhill street, beside the stone wall, and below the Benjamin Franklin Bridge on my way to the "17 Border Crossings" performance. Since my printed Google map walking route included walking across the highway, which didn't seem accessible, a nice lady showed me the "real" way to Race Street Pier. Excited for the unknown and playful journey ahead of me and nervous for being alone, I set off my own little adventure, assuming the show was at the Pier and might be outdoor.

Following the lady's instructions, I found walking on a path with nobody around at night was terribly terrifying, especially because the other side of this down-sloping road was a high stone wall separating the highway. A voice was screaming "No" inside of me. But nothing kept me from walking ahead. Finally seeing the big "Race Street Pier" sign, I cheered for the almost end of my "misery". I didn't realize how courageous I was until on my way back to the train station with Tessa and Taylor, when they said "I would definitely go back if I were walking on this street by myself. How did you even do it? "

How did I even do it? I've always identified myself as a kind-of-timid person. However, today's experience made me realize how far of the limits human potentials could reach and how much courage I possess. From the perspectives of people around me, I am such a girl who travelled halfway across the world for college, who decided to go to Cancun five days before leaving with another girl that she met on the same night when they booked their flight tickets and hotel, and who walked by herself through a "no people" zone in the dark evening of November without thinking about quitting. These are probably not the right things to do, but after contemplating on all these issues, I found that they actually took on a huge significance for my self-recognition and self-realization. Time pasts slower and my role becomes bigger. This kind of mind playing engendered a surprising sense of fulfillment from my adventure tonight, and introduced a new way of looking at things.

The experience reminded me of the term "Deep Play" introduced by Diane Ackerman. What is deep play exactly? As Ackerman writes, different from simple play, deep play focuses "one's life" and offers "ecstatic moments". Deep play includes such vital elements as "an alternate reality outside the normal lull of routine, a high intensity and focus, perpetual risk, constant exposure to danger, fascination with another" and "the sacred and holy". I agree with some of these elements, but deep play doesn't necessary need to meet all of the above requirements. As far as I'm concerned, deep play is a rare and sacred activity that involves "an alternate reality", concentrated focus, high consciousness and realization.

Deep play introduces one way of critical writing. In this circumstance, the writer will give permission to imagination, spontaneity, and creativity. He or she will step back, be less critical, embrace accidents or coincidence, and just write in an organic form of structure.

Looking back into the essays I wrote in this semester so far, I found that some papers would be better if I used the technique of "deep play". The way I write is not spontaneous at all. I think about the topics and thesis I'm going to write about, and I look for any points that are connected to my position, regardless of any other sources nonrelated to my point of view. However, in deep play of critical writing, I should just let it flow and see where it goes. For example, as I was writing about the Magic Garden, I should let my mind wonder a little bit first, since it was such a beautiful place that could need a lot of inspiration and new ideas.

However, deep play is not the best for every instance. Deep play is a great way to improve people's thinking skills and provide opportunities for imaginations. But think of a class that operates only in "deep play". The class could produce a lot of scattered, but interesting viewpoints. However, they lack of structures if we go on.

Therefore, deep play has its merits and demerits. And critical writing through deep play has a number of benefits, one of which is the production of more new ideas and unconstrained thoughts.