Called to Adventure, Enchantment

Ash Perrin on Why Your Imagination Matters

Your imagination matters! Even if you are adult.

To explain why, let me tell you about a professional playologist named Ash Perrin.

Ash Perrin started a group called The Flying Seagull Project. 

This project is a group of jugglers, clowns and entertainers. They take play into the most surprising places, like children’s hospitals and refugee camps.

Ash Perrin and his friends strongly believe that play can save the world. And I agree with them.

Of course, that is quite a big claim to make—that play can save the world. I’m going to be completely honest that I can’t defend that claim in this post.

So, for right now, please just consider the possibility that play can change the world.

And let me return to Ash Perrin and imagination.

Several years ago, Perrin and his play troupe visited a refugee camp in Idomeni.

Idomeni is a small town in Greece with a camp where thousands of refugees resided, trying to escape the civil war in Syria.

In his Ted Talk, “The Power of Play”, Perrin explains that the children in that camp were in a state of ongoing trauma.

He describes that many of them had lost all expressions of childlike joy and, understandably, looked haggard and despairing.

Perrin and his troupe began holding place circle every day. This circle gave the children in the camp a safe and consistent place to come each day to play.

And when the children assembled, they would play games like Duck, Duck Goose. Or, as the children in the camp called it “Duck, Duck Wolf”.

But sometimes, the children were so overwhelmed by the terrible conditions in the camp–like foul weather, gang violence, and excessive use of tear gas by guards–that the children couldn’t even play.

On these days, Perrin says in his Ted Talk, he and his troupe would sing, yell, and howl at the top of their lungs with the kids. (You can see them do this in his Ted Talk.)

You can find Ash Perrin’s book The Real Play Revolution on Amazon or your local bookseller.

Singing and yelling this way was a powerful gesture, Perrin says, that allowed kids to play themselves back into the world.

And it worked.

Perrin describes one day when he and his troupe were holding play circle.

Some guards started firing off tear gas a few yards away, presumably to settle a skirmish in the camp.

As soon as the play circle smelled the tear gas, they ran quickly in different directions.

Perrin said a little boy grabbed his hand and said, “This way, Mister.” He ran with Perrin and some other folks from the circle a little way off.

When it seemed safe, the little boy made a gesture for Perrin and the others to form a circle.

And then the little boy performed a magic trick for them to help them feel safe in the midst of fear.

This little boy had learned that play helps you take back control of your world and empower yourself and others with kindness, hope, and imagination.

I think we often discount the power of imagination as adults. But imagination is crucial.

Imagination is the space in your mind in which you can think of a different world—a loving, playful, purposeful, and enchanted world.

Enchantment is the feeling that there is something beautiful, mysterious, and purposeful about life.

It is the feeling that we are part of a wonderful adventure.

And it also the feeling that we have some kind of interactive agency in this adventure.

We feel like we can powerfully affect some things, although not everything.

And by the way we often feel enchanted as a child.

We imagine the kind of world we want to create and then we play to create our world.

For instance, we do this by coloring, building things with legos, or constructing a cool fort in our back yard.

We understand imagination when we are younger.

However, often when we get older, we lose the ability to imagine and play for a variety of reasons.

Sometime I will write about the various reasons we lose our ability.

However, right now I would like to point out that whenever we play, in that moment, we tap into our imagination again.

That’s because when we play, we temporarily leave the world as it is and enter an enchanted space where anything could happen.

In his Ted Talk, Perrin says

“We are limited only by the idea we have of ourselves. And I think that idea is something we can do a lot more playing with.

So I ask you, I beg you, and I even kind of insist: go be playful.

Play more, play together, and play as often as you can.”

Play because it kindles your imagination. And your imagination can save the world.

By the way, you might also like these posts

Why You Should Listen to Your Dreams

Can Cultivating Positive Emotions Help You Succeed?

When We Want to Create a Different Path for Ourselves

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