While researching for my play workshop, I came across an interesting concept called neoteny. According to the Scientific American article “Being More Infantile Might Have Led to Bigger Brains,” neoteny is “the retention of juvenile features.” For example, humans have big eyes, flatter faces and far less body hair than a mature chimpanzee, our closest ancestor. Basically, we have many of the features of a baby monkey. We have a slower maturation process than chimps, too.
“For the record, woohoo! Not just art, but life- magic.”
– Jandy Nelson, I’ll Give You the Sun
I am just learning how to play again; how to make life magical. How to find the silky seedlings in dried out pods while walking and then set them free in the wind one by one.
How to grab hand-fulls of leaves and smoosh them into my face before tossing them high into the air and watching them fall.
How to whisper stories to trees while I press my hand to the rough bark and listen for an answer. (See The Silent Friends video).
It is good learning.
This last week my husband Jamey and I took Sawyer (our five-year-old) to see the Lego exhibit at the Columbus Museum of Art.
“Expressive movement reaches its pinnacle in free play. It is observed in many mammals and all humans and is individualistic. It can consist of the spontaneous leaps and gambols we see in sheep, horses, and wolves. It is seen in humans as free associative movement that unfolds not through any external dictates, but motion that arises from a deep immersion in direct experience, following the moment to moment stimuli of the senses, of feelings, of images.”
-“Life Dancing Itself” by Christine Caldwell, from the On Being blog
As mentioned in the Beautiful Moments post, my friend Melissa inspired the “Why Not?” practice as an outcropping of “Beautiful Moments.” The basic idea is this:
There are things that are very possible and would bring us joy, but we often don’t do these things. Why not just do them and see what happens?
The classic example the two of us often refer to is walking through the grass in bare feet. She has a lovely story where her four-year-old daughter imparted this wisdom to her one day in the back yard: