We are never more fully alive, more completely ourselves,
or more deeply engrossed in anything, than when we are at play.
~ Charles E. Schaefer ~
Recently, I had one of those dreams that makes you pay attention, even though this one was more fragment than a full dream. You wake, aware of being given information, insight or guidance.
And what made the dream even more significant, more memorable, was that Liam Neeson was in it.
Celebrity dreams are not uncommon. The celebrity in a dream can serve several purposes but one of the most frequent is as messenger or Muse, probably because we tend to pay more attention to the words of a celebrity than someone else.
As I process the dream, my first question is, “Why Liam Neeson?”
I like him as an actor but he’s not a favorite and I haven’t seen him in anything recently. So why him? Well, perhaps because in a couple of his films I’ve watched in the past like Batman 1 and Star Wars: Episode 1, The Phantom Menace, Neeson plays the role of sage and teacher. Not always an ethical one, but teacher, nonetheless.
And, there is his voice… Memorable, to say the least.
But what does this have to do with my dream?
In it, Liam Neeson stands at a table working in a shirt with its sleeves rolled up, his hands on something that might be sculpting clay.
He looks up at me and says, “Play is the priority. Play comes first. Wisdom arises out of play.”
That was it. End of dream. A dream fragment significant enough that I remembered it upon waking.
I turned Neeson’s words over in my mind.
If you are a writer, performer, artist or other creative, then, like me, you probably experience periods when the delight, the adventure, the play of your work is buried beneath deadlines, agent’s expectations, and just the day-to-day demands of living.
The lift and lilt of play in the work drains away until there is not even work but only drudgery.
And isn’t that terrifying? To think that something you love, that gave you joy, should oppress you?
Yes, there is discipline and commitment and practice to doing creative work. But if there is not play?
So Liam Neeson as Muse messenger shows up to remind me that play is not just for children, but is just as important as work. That, in fact, play is the work, and vice versa.
In play, there is an openness to others, to possibilities and potentialities, to discoveries and adventure, to rules and the breaking of them. In play there is a flexibility of the mind, and a willingness to engage and go beyond boundaries.
Alan Watts says that this, “… is the real secret of life — to be completely engaged with what you are doing in the here and now. And instead of calling it work, realize it is play.”
In that deep engagement with life, out of all the experiences of play, arises wisdom, especially as it applies to your writing or other creative work.
In this season of celebration of new birth, of the return of the light, of re-connecting with the child within, Neeson’s message to me, to play, is so very timely.
So, I encourage you in these next few weeks to play.
Play with your family and friends. Play with your work that is play. Play with those other creative outlets that you’ve set aside for too long.
And receive the new understanding and new depth in your creative work that arises from it.