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Lines To Live By

Sometimes It Sounds Just Right

There are wonderful moments when rooting around in the minds of others (which is what reading really is), moments when the writer’s notions pierce our thickened skin and calloused skull. It’s all too easy to pretend that we’re different and special – we are, but in exactly the same way as everyone else.

As the kid in The Incredibles says (more or less) “everyone’s special; that’s just another way of saying that no one is” (slightly mangled quote by memory I’m afraid).


What does seem more special is the ways into our minds. Those neural pathways and complexes of memories and feelings create thorned and improbable lanes for ideas to loiter and flee into. Now and then I read something, or hear it (jeez, Portishead and Massive Attack have direct access to the gnarled emotional core of me), whether by a careful wordsmith or an off-hand quip and it ploughs through those fragile walls and the shambled maze is left stuttering agape  in the wake of sudden solidarity.

Blundering in a Word Wood

So, the bit I stumbled across that touched my heart, possibly just because it seems to me to validate all forms of play as developmental and vital to the mind of a person, is from the (excellent) book I’m reading. image From K.J. Parker‘s Devices and Desires

“Let a man therefore turn his hand to all manner of vain and foolish toys, so that thereby he shall make good his skill for when he shall require of it to serve a nobler purpose.”

This speaks to me in lots of ways. Not just in being able to wave away criticisms of just messing about with Lego or scribblings. Most importantly it shines a true light on the value of play and of playfulness. To my mind, every act of creation makes us a better person. I feel that it is when we are making, writing, building on stage, in life or on paper that we become ourselves most fully.

All we can ever be is ourselves; we can only pretend to be something else. In the end, it is only by being ourselves that we can hope to be happy. What nobler purpose? In play we are affectionate and happy, which allows those we are with to share in our happiness and affection and receive such in return. That’ll do for me.

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