The exploration of the idea of ‘my day off’ in a mind map was initially thought of as a way to capture the abstract idea of ‘fun’ – what makes a day off different than a day at work, for example? The choice of the Cat in the Hat as a central image was immediate; this is for me an evocation of childhood, and the sense of freedom and spontaneity that childhood play evokes. It can be difficult to maintain that sense as an adult; of course responsibilities get in the way but other inhibitions intrude also. Work is very much play for me, never the less, a strict schedule is defined by a bell, and the sense of ‘flow’ – of losing track of time in an intensely pleasurable pursuit – is always interrupted. But the division of work and play is not a strictly defined boundary in my life. That was the most interesting part of the exercise – the recognition that the “basic ordering ideas” of the mind map – ‘think’, ‘fun’, ‘walk’, ‘read’, ‘cook’ – are the ingredients of everyday, not just days off (Buzan, T. & Buzan, B., 1993). This is where the balance of work/life exists – a day that contains these essential elements is both a pleasurable and a productive day, whether at work or play.
I suppose I previously recognized that my enthusiasm for both work and play existed; this is, however, a new understanding: that ‘work’ or ‘play’ is not defined by a location or a task. In fact, ‘work’ or ‘play’ – as in the signifier – is largely defined by codes, “views and attitudes about how the social world is or ought to be” (Streeter, T., 2005). If there is any fortune I possess, this is surely it: the ability to blend the ethos of both in daily life. Kenneth Clark says “the history of art cannot be properly understood without some reference to the history of science. In both we are studying the symbols in which man affirms his mental scheme…” (quoted in Gelb, 2004, p. 166). Here then are the symbols of my mental scheme…
A mental scheme varied, colourful, informed, vibrant and exuberant. To make both work and play a pleasure is an acomplishment of spiritual and mental acuity.
Thank you! But without wishing to denigrate the compliment, I believe that could be said to be our natural inclination, and we have merely supressed it. Oh, but I love the word exuberant!