Ingenuity…the playful mind in action

I recently posted with the subject heading “I shouldn’t be alive…”

It was meant to be funny, based on the TV show of the same name.  Granted, most of the people who appear in that show have real stories that back up the claim…while mine, though real, was not necessarily life-threatening.

It got me to thinking, though, writing that post, about what our culture promotes.  What types of stories we tell one another.

The stories on the show “I Shouldn’t Be Alive” are usually very grim.  And the ones I’ve seen have all been stories about survival occurring due to luck or chance.

That’s a different mentality than the story of a person who survives because they know how to.

In Wade Davis’ TED talk he tells the story an Inuit man named Olayek told him.  Olayek’s grandfather was not interested in relocating to the settlement the Canadian government was trying to put the Inuit on.  The family were worried for the grandfather’s life.  They were afraid that the Canadian government might try to force him to move.  If the grandfather rebelled violently, they might kill him.  So they did the only thing they could think to do – they took away all of his belongings.  Wade tells the rest as follows:

“The Inuit did not fear the cold, they took advantage of it…so, this man’ts grandfather was not intimidated by the arctic night or the blizzard that was blowing, he simply slipped outside, pulled down his sealskin trousers, and defecated into his hand.  And as the feces began to freeze, he shaped it into the form of a blade.  He put a string of saliva on the end of the shit-knife, and as it finally froze solid, he butchered a dog with it.  He skinned the dog and improvised a harness.  Took the ribcage of the dog and improvised a sled.  Harnessed up an adjacent dog, and disappeared over the ice floes, shit knife in belt.  Talk about getting by with nothing.”

Now that’s ingenuity!

One of my most favorite “playful thinkers” of all time is Bugs Bunny.  That rabbit always plays.  Every other episode featuring Bugs starts off with him singing a carefree song.

When trouble comes around, it’s no worry.  It’s a game.  Some of the funniest scenes are where it actually gets serious, and Bugs hightails it out of there!  You don’t see cartoons like that nowadays…at least, I haven’t.  Everything’s loaded with seriousness or innuendo.  No ingenious characters, who approach every problem with a light heart, and the power of their quick wit.

As Wade Davis points out, what changes people, and in turn, what changes societies, are the stories they tell to themselves, or to one another.

What stories are you telling yourself, and those around you?

What stories are you being told?

What story do you want to tell or be told?

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Finite and Infinite Games – Review

Just finished reading James Carse’s book “Finite and Infinite Games.”

Finite and Infinite Games

Finite and Infinite Games

I can’t recommend it highly enough.  It’s incredibly dense for such a short paperback book (177 pages).  It might take a while to get through, but it’s worth the consideration and effort!

The  book isn’t strictly about “games” in the sense that we usually consider them, but applies the concept of play to human life in general – one of the things I like most about it!

Regarding fitness and health, here’s a nice quote for you:

Physicians who cure must abstract persons into functions.  They treat the illness, not the person.  And persons willfully present themselves as functions.  Indeed, what sustains the enormous size and cost of the curing professions is the widespread desire to see oneself as a function, or a collection of functions.  To be ill is to be dysfunctional; to be dysfunctional is to be unable to compete in one’s preferred contests.  It is a kind of death, an inability to acquire titles.  The ill become invisible.  Illness always has the smell of death about it: Either it may lead to death, or it leads to the death of a person as competitor.  The dread of illness is the dread of losing.
One is never ill in general.  One is always ill with relation to some bounded activity.  It is not cancer that makes me ill.  It is because I cannot work, or run, or swallow that I am ill with cancer.  The loss of function, the obstruction of an activity, cannot in itself destroy my health.  I am too heavy to fly by flapping my arms, but I do not for that reason complain of being sick with weight.  However if I desired to be a fashion model, a dancer, or a jockey, I would consider excessive weight to be a  kind of disease and would be likely to consult a doctor, a nutritionist, or another specialist to be cured of it.
When I am healed I am restored to my center in a way that my freedom as a person is not compromised by my loss of functions.  This means that the illness need not be eliminated before I can be healed.  I am not free to the degree that I can overcome my infirmities, but only to the degree that I can put my infirmities into play.  I am cured of my illness; I am healed with my illness.

(pp. 91-92)

The crux of this book is critical for those of us who want to change the way fitness is approached – by ourselves or by the “industry.”  “Functional” fitness, all the rage nowadays, is part of a larger outlook on life that confines individuals to boundaries, and attempts to confine Nature similarly.

In order to create change, we have to change the way we speak about things.  We need perspective.  This book will help.  Get it!

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