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Permission to Play

Yesterday evening, armed with a pencil, a sketch pad and an eraser I drew a picture. I hadn’t drawn anything in 20 years. I don’t draw because I can’t. Simple as that. Can’t do it, don’t try. What I ended up with was something rather surprising. It was a passable rough sketch of a man lying on a pillow. His nose is a bit wonky and slightly too large for his face, but it’s clear what the image was. It’s sort of cool really.

Last night I learnt a lesson, one that I appear to be in desperate need of. I learnt that it is okay to give yourself permission to play, permission to not be perfect. I don’t do that enough. Everything I do has to be perfect, first time, every time. It’s one of the main stumbling blocks to actually producing any form of creativity or work. If it ain’t perfect, chuck it out and start again seems to be a motto I’ve picked up from somewhere along the way.

Of course, the cynic in me wonders if it’s a self-created delusion to prevent me doing anything. There’s an old saying “no risk, no glory” or words to that affect. I never take a risk, not in my creative life anyway. I’m all for taking corporate risks, but not creative ones.

Last night while my finger was grey from smudging pencil lead all over the mountains – second picture I drew last night – I realised that this perfectionist nonsense impacts all areas of my life. It’s one of the reasons why job hunting is such a drain on my energy. I’ve sent out approximately 40 applications, had a handful – of a very small child size – of replies saying no. The rest I’ve not heard back from at all.

The rejections and the ignoring of applications has led me to the place where I picked up a pencil for the first time in two decades. Last night I needed something, anything, to distract my mind. What I ended up with was so much more. I ended up with permission to make a mess, to play, to draw a wonky nose or a slightly uneven ship rail. And you know what, the world didn’t end. Not only that, in a fit of the giggles I posted the two pictures on Instagram where they were even liked by some people.

That more than anything cracked me up. I loved that someone liked my attempt at drawing. It made my night, and made me realise that one man’s perfection is, at it’s root, simply a way to avoid confronting my desire for success.

My first drawing in 20 years; Sleeping Man with Wonky Nose :)

My mother once said “I don’t know where you got the need  to be perfect all the time, we sure didn’t instal that in you”. She’s right, they didn’t. Somewhere along the way I picked it up on my own.

Over the next week I’m going to give myself permission to play, to be wrong and messy and far from perfect.

Tomorrow I turn 40 *YAY* and tomorrow is the beginning of not only my own new year, but a brand new decade. I decided last night that in my 40’s I’m giving myself permission to have fun. Not to be all caught up in corporate nonsense or being perfect, or not letting the side down.

I’m going to focus on my creative side in the upcoming ten years. Letting myself get down in the mud and remember the sheer joy of creating things simply for the fun of it.

Life is serious, at least that’s how I’ve made it. Looking back that’s not worked out particularly the way I planned. So instead I’m going to focus on manifesting what I want in my life, and in having fun.

I guess the point to this post is that you don’t need to be perfect in order to smile. You don’t need to have everything going your way in order to be happy and to feel blessed. I believe the more you laugh, the more successful you will be. And even if you’re not, at least you’ll have more fun along the way.

So if you need it, here it is, permission to play and to be imperfect and to scratch your knees and fall out of trees and eat mud pies and draw wonky nosed shirtless men sleeping on a pillow.

What I’d love to know is what you do when you need to play? It’s been a long time since I played at anything, my idea pool is slightly drained. Leave a comment below if you’ve a hankering too and let me know what you do when you need play time. I’ll take all the suggestions I can get.

My 2nd piece of artwork entitled: Front bit of ship cause that was all I knew how to draw :)

Mike

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43 year old Australian writer currently working on the first of a planned three book Epic Fantasy series. When he's not writing policy discussions, or tales of swords, Gods, and magic, he can be found making a mess in the kitchen, and turning perfectly good ingredients into crimes against humanity.

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