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Tuesday
Nov232010

playful energy v. obsessional energy

People see that having energy and being energetic are attractive qualities. They find that that having energy is a good feeling. So they work out ways to get more- drugs, exercise, being up beat and positive, working hard. Some stumble on the fact that there is apparently unlimited energy available to the fundementalist religious type, the mega productive artist and writer, the workaholic, the fitness fanatic. In other words- obsession. If you straitjacket your mind into obsessional mode you can crank up the energy levels, a bit like a turbo booster on an engine allows you to dial up whatever horsepower you want. But like an engine, where the more power you extract the more fragile the engine becomes, so too, obsessional energy comes with a price tag. Which is; it doesn’t have wings.

What I mean is that obsessional energy doesn't energise others. Oh, it might get some people moving, but it invites as much opposition as anything else. Playful energy- and I don't mean playing, or the image of children running and shrieking around 'letting off steam', I mean a kind of light and delicate flexibility in the way any interaction is handled- one example is the way the character 'Cosmo' is played in Singing in the Rain. A lightness of being. Which allows us to float above our earthbound obsessions and problems. Inventive, careless but precise, not heavy footed and slow- lively and cheerful but not hectoring and bullying. The Japanese have a word 'genki' which describes playful energy very well.

Obsessional energy is earthbound, to some extent. It is not like playful energy which is ethereal and attractive to all because it is not owned, is somehow of another realm. Obsessional energy is gritty and earthbound, humourless sometimes. Playful energy is saved from degenerating into the surreal and absurd by its rootedness in humour.

Why do so many people say such things as, “hope for the world lies with children and artists.” Because children (and some artists) often exemplify this playful energy. They don’t yet have obsessional energy. They play, that’s what they do.

Playful energy has wings. It can be transmitted to others. I do not mean jocular or back slapping humour, I mean rather a kind of light heartedness and light footedness almost a detachment from the world except descending all the time like a non-swimmer crossing a pool by touching the bottom every now and then.

Playful energy can have no aim or end. It doesn’t get you anywhere. But it is vital nutrition none the less.

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