Be Playful

Finding space to play

Posted on: 24 July 2008

In which  some thoughts are shared on place and space.

Photo by Ahmed Zahid.

Recently I have been thinking about my relationship with the space around me.  When I enter a room to sit down, I prefer to head to a corner, to sit quietly and watch the action in the middle of the room.  I’m like this in social situations, at university, and at work.  Sitting in a corner helps me to feel confident, to study better and to work harder.  I am energised and charged by being close to a corner or a wall.  I feel safe and comfortable, happy in who I am.

My whole life I’ve been learning to make myself feel comfortable in the centre of a room – after all, it’s not always possible to choose where you sit.  However, in social situations I still feel incredible uncomfortable in the centre of a group, and if I sit in the middle of a room at university I am easily distracted, finding it more difficult to focus.

Play Spaces

Photo by fazen.

Moving into a new, bigger house, I have found it very liberating to have separate spaces for work, play, and sleeping.  Living in student accommodation, I used to work, study, read, exercise, sleep, go online and relax all in the same room.  Everything I did, I never felt fully in the moment.  There were always distractions around me when I was trying to study, or more things to get done when I was trying to relax.

Photo by Carbon NYC.

I prefer small rooms to big halls.  I love finding secret places to hide where no-one can find me, safe from my worries, free from interruptions.  When visiting my younger sisters I still love building a secret den with them.

Reflecting Spaces

Photo by

Some spaces make me reflect on life.  Entering an ornate church or a grand cathedral always makes me catch my breath, to sit for a moment and wonder about my existance, to pray to the sacred.  Simple, silent chapels have a similar effect, pausing the busyness of life in a time of reflection.

Other spaces I do anything but reflect.  My bathroom, for example.  The most time I spend in there is early in the morning when thinking is the last thing on my mind.  I just want to go through the motions: brush-my-teeth-shave-shower-done.

Outdoors I feel free, but lost in my soul.  The beauty of nature overwhelms me, I wonder how I can ever live up to such splendour and grace in the small world inside me.

It’s been good for me to realise what spaces make me feel comfortable and what spaces make me feel awkward or scared because it means I can push the boundaries of comfort out a little further, expanding the space that energises me.

What do you think?

I’d love to hear of other people’s relationship to space.  Please take a moment to think about yours, and share your thoughts in a comment.

  • Where do you feel energised?
  • Do you get a bigger buzz from being with people or spending time alone?
  • Are your favourite places indoors or outdoors?  In the cityscape or in the countryside?
  • Do you prefer to be surrounded by ornate beauty or simple minimalism?  To hide in the shadows or dance in the light?
  • What spaces help you to get in touch with the sacred?
  • Where are your spaces of play?  Does play invade your work?

7 Responses to "Finding space to play"

We’ve live in a 1000-square-feet apartment and it suits us just fine. I have a rich inner life, so I don’t need a fancy environment. As long as it’s quiet, I don’t have trouble concentrating on things I care about. Immersing myself in projects is what energizes me. Also interacting with close friends.

I love this post and the pictures. I have stumbled it.

My location keeps changing. From a 850 square feet apartment to a tiny hotel room. However surprisingly, even in a small hotel room, there are spaces which make me lazy and unproductive and spaces which help me be creative and come out with ideas. Thankfully, staying focussed is not a problem for me. Once I sit to work, I can keep working for hours.

Hi David,

The outdoors makes me feel energized. I love nature and the mountains, but my favorite is the ocean (which I don’t get to see but maybe once a year). I prefer to work in silence. I like the country for relaxation, but the buzz of the city energizes me. I love simplicity. Clutter makes me irritable, but I do love to see beautiful architecture. Sometimes I, too, like to sit “behind the scenes” and observe and listen. So much can be learned by watching and listening to others.

As much as you can, space is the thing, at least for me. You can work a lot with what you have also. Thanks for this David. Stumbled.

What an interesting post! It’s funny that I’m reading this now, because I recently finished rearranging and decorating one of my apartment rooms. I now enjoy spending time in it whereas I previously felt uncomfortable. I will pay more attention to the spaces around me to discover what makes me feel energized. Thanks!

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[…] n. the most creative place in all the world social justice, n. the aim of playfulness sacred space, n. anywhere playful acts are committed sparkles, n. those little bits of magic that make life […]

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