Friday, May 18, 2012

Thriving: life as play

I've been drawn to a very compelling thread in a few people's philosophies over the last two weeks that I thought I should quickly share.

Life is play.

Life generates art.

Or, what we should be aiming for in social change programs is not safety from hardship, but thriving

These people have very compelling stories for looking at this very similar creative, thriving positive attribute as what we should aim for - or what things are 'for', in the absence of an independently defined purpose in the world.

What are we here for?  What is the meaning of life?

Life does not have a 'purpose', it is not 'for' something - it is play.  Sit back and enjoy the show.


  1. Not sure I follow. Life has no meaning it is play?
    Why bother with social change if life has no meaning. Why bother with anything except your own self interest and pleasure. Is this what you're saying.? It's kinda hedonistic & narcissistic - not traits of the community & social minded.
    Play is part of life and living a good life but it's not life.
    Nihilism often emerges when we've lost something precious to us or suffered a big disappointment or feel a loss of power/effectiveness. Life is meaningful - you give it meaning and value by the decisions you make (or don't make), by the quality of the relationships you have (or don't have), by contributing and engaging how ever you can, by making a difference on whatever scale you can, by being a good and generous person, by sharing your talents. By being good and kind. By loving.

  2. Thanks SP. I've edited a few lines of the post in response, I think I was unclear.

    I didn't mean to advocate anything despairing, or hedonistic either, and certainly not hedonistic.

    For me, nihilism is a phase that goes hand in hand with realising that life is not predefined for us. It is a generative, disruptive reaction against philosophies which tell us that what we should do is imposed from outside of us (e.g. through a deity which tells us how to be good people, or a government that tells us how to be good consumers). In that sense, yes the post is nihilistic.

    But that is never the end of the story. There is still a 'so what?' question. Or an 'okay, what now?'

    Each of these links harks to a philosophy where someone has run with that question and identified how to aim for a better world without being told what it is we're supposed to do to achieve it.

    I think your words on how we give life meaning are a very good answer to the 'so, what now?' question. : ) I suggest checking out a few of the links, you'll probably find material that resonates.

  3. Thanks for clarifying.

    The Alan Watts link did resonate and helped me to understand the essence of your post a little more.

    And so to ask you your own question: so what now professional adventurer? How does this thinking add to your journey and how is it shaping things, with TACSi, Community making? Other projects? SP

    1. I don't have a ready answer to that one. :)

      I have realised that there is never going to be an overarching justification or rationale for any given approach to life. You need to go with what feels right. Of course life is always messy and 'what feels right' is never easy to find. In fact, we are endlessly recreating it... but that's another story.

      I'm not sure how else this thinking has added to the journey. I'll have to take it on notice.

      Thanks for your comments SP. Would you mind tweeting @JohnSBaxter or emailing my gmail account jsbax2010 so I know who you are?

  4. Going with what feels right - I like that - it's a heart response. Mind you, it's not always easy to work out what feels right - as you've eluded to. I know I've left things because they didn't feel right only to know - hindsight - that it was a temporary glitch and I should have outlasted the matter, not jumped.
    Should have tried harder to influence the situation, trusted my personal power, trusted others' capacity for change. That's part of why it's so messy.
    Knowing you can reassess, revisit and rethink stuff helps. Necessary tools if you're just going by what feels right. Sometimes what feels right is very of the moment and self interest driven. And sometimes we need things to be wrong to make them right. Yeah, life is messy. : )
    May your choices feel right and if they don't may you have the courage to fix or change them.
    SP (will think about your request - but like Alan Watt I like the unknown) : )

  5. You are life and you know it yet you are "imagining" about it.