Prepared for surprise

Scientists have recently determined that it takes approximately 400 repetitions to create a new synapse in the brain – unless done with play, in which case it takes between 10-20 repetitions.*
(Karyn Purvis)

Whoever touches and whoever it touched cannot but be surprised.**
(James Carse)

There are many reasons why “we-move-rather-than-touch,” one of which is surprise-avoidance. But there are surprises and surprises: the nasty kind and the nice kind.

On Sunday a friend shared how she’d lost a bracelet recently received as a gift. I happened to bump into her yesterday and she told me that her son had encouraged her to go to the shop the bracelet had come from, just in case someone had handed it in.

She didn’t hold out much hope but went along anyway and explained everything. The assistant told my friend that nothing had been handed in, but the shop manager on hearing the story, told the assistant to provide another bracelet.

That’s the kind of surprise that can happen if we turn up and play, which is what my friend did despite her doubts.

There’s no substitute to turning up every day in our values and abilities, and playing.

When we do this over a long enough period, we can be sure we are in quite a different place. Play does this:

Play turns to seriousness and seriousness to play. Play may rise to heights of beauty and sublimity that leave seriousness beneath. […] It adorns life, amplifies it, and it is to that extent a necessity both for the individual – as a life function – and for society by reason of the meaning it contains, its significance, its expressive value, its spiritual and social associations, in short, as a culture function.^

In these words from Johan Huizinga, we look on the reciprocity there ought to be between playfulness and seriousness, each giving to the other, though it is more likely that playfulness and not seriousness seriousness will take us into surprise because it is always exploring.

Play on.

(*Karyn Purvis, from Speech and Language Therapy NHS Lanarkshire.)
(**From James Carse’s Finite and Infinite Games.)
(^From Johan Huizinga’s Homo Ludens.)

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