Come and play with me,” proposed the little prince. “I am so unhappy.”
“I cannot play with you,” the fox said. “I am not tamed.”
~Antoine de Saint-Exupéry
“When I grow up I want to be a little boy”
Recently we have been celebrating World Creativity and Innovation Week (http://worldcreativity.wordpress.com/) and today we celebrate World Book Night. For both occasions we have had a retreat – and a withdrawal – to enjoy being away from what is popular in academic circles at the moment, especially overrated and popular books in adult literary and reading groups. We have been opting for childhood narratives instead. Why? Here it goes:
Psychologists suggest that playing is central to one’s creativity, but adults rarely re-visit their childhood; how we used to play at school and what we used to read. Often social norms, cultural expectations, and individual emotions come together to prescribe play as an impediment to productivity, and to dismiss childhood narratives for those who are considered adults. Growing up is a process that invites certain attitudes to detachment from childhood. To be an adult, one is expected to behave in a certain manner as if being removed from a planet called childhood. Dr. Stuart Brown, founder and president of The National Institute for Play (http://www.nifplay.org/) suggests that ‘humour, games, roughhousing, flirtation and fantasy are more than just fun. Plenty of play in childhood makes for happy, smart adults — and keeping it up can make us smarter at any age’. Interestingly, Brown’s research on play is rooted in his study of problematic adulthood, especially one that affects interpersonal relationships.
Think, for example, of anger and resentment. In the process of growing up, many individuals lose their sense of humour; we become serious by forgetting the power of childhood laughter. This is a problematic process, as adults may find it difficult to accept any type of loss. Children learn losing and winning through play but once we grow up, losing becomes an awkward subject, so much so that everyone tries to win all the time. This, in turn, makes up for unhealthy and controlling behaviours, and as a result reducing productivity. We all know that a control freak finds it difficult to let go and play a creative role in personal life or in society and especially as a player in team-work. According to Bernie DeKoven ‘Our sense of humour has a lot to do with our ability to stay on a playful path. Joking with a stranger, laughing together, sharing a moment of silliness, we connect, we build bridges across the divide that keeps us strangers’. Psychology and sociology scholars suggest that playing is a must if you wish to spread love and kindness in your life and to others’ lives. ‘By making a conscious effort to incorporate more humour and play into your daily interactions, you can improve the quality of your love relationships – as well as your connections with co-workers, family members, and friends’. Same goes with reading experiences. Indulge in your childhood narratives every now and again. Make sure to re-visit the very sentences that inspired you as a child. Take delight in touching colourful pages of a book you used to enjoy at school and never forget to play and playfully read.
So here at Embodiments we have chosen One Thousand and One Nights (كتاب ألف ليلة وليلة ). We are travelling to the otherness of childhood narratives and to make it complete with the joy of friendship from across the world in playful reading, here is an excerpt from Le Petit Prince. Hope you enjoy it:
“Please–tame me!” said [the Fox].
“I want to, very much,” the little prince replied. “But I have not much time. I have friends to discover, and a great many things to understand.”
“One only understands the things that one tames,” said the fox. “Men have no more time to understand anything. They buy things all ready made at the shops. But there is no shop anywhere where one can buy friendship, and so men have no friends any more. If you want a friend, tame me . . .”
“What must I do, to tame you?” asked the little prince.
“You must be very patient,” replied the fox. “First you will sit down at a little distance from me–like that–in the grass. I shall look at you out of the corner of my eye, and you will say nothing. Words are the source of misunderstandings. But you will sit a little closer to me, every day . . .”
The next day the little prince came back.
“It would have been better to come back at the same hour,” said the fox. “If, for example, you come at four o’clock in the afternoon, then at three o’clock I shall begin to be happy. I shall feel happier and happier as the hour advances. At four o’clock, I shall already be worrying and jumping about. I shall show you how happy I am! But if you come at just any time, I shall never know at what hour my heart is to be ready to greet you . . . One must observe the proper rites . . .”
“What is a rite?” asked the little prince.
“Those also are actions too often neglected,” said the fox. “They are what make one day different from other days, one hour from other hours…”
So the little prince tamed the fox. And when the hour of his departure drew near–
“Ah,” said the fox, “I shall cry.”
“It is your own fault,” said the little prince. “I never wished you any sort of harm; but you wanted me to tame you . . .”
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“But now you are going to cry!” said the little prince.
“Yes, that is so,” said the fox.
“Then it has done you no good at all!”
“It has done me good,” said the fox, “because of the color of the wheat fields.” And then he added:
“Go and look again at the roses. You will understand now that yours is unique in all the world. Then come back to say goodbye to me, and I will make you a present of a secret.”
The little prince went away, to look again at the roses… And he went back to meet the fox.
“Goodbye,” he said.
“Goodbye,” said the fox. “And now here is my secret, a very simple secret: It is only with the heart that one can see rightly; what is essential is invisible to the eye.”