Just Playing Around

David Musick (David_Musick@msn.com)
Sat, 10 Aug 96 20:00:08 UT

I'd like to share some of the types of activities I've been doing lately that
are of a self-transformative / learning nature that are also quite fun.

One of the things I do is basically an extension of the type of activity I
was engaged in as an infant and a small child -- testing out my bodily
capabilities. When I was young, I didn't really know how to use the body
(among many other things), and I just played around, more or less chaotically,
and some types of movements were very enjoyable (such as putting food in my
mouth), and some were painful (such as falling down), and through that
feedback, my neural nets favored the enjoyable types of activities and avoided
the more painful or less enjoyable activities. But at some point I stopped
learning and experimenting so much because I had learned all the standard
movements for humans in our culture, and was encouraged by the culture to not
deviate too much from the normal types of movements.
But for the past few years, I've been curious about my body and its
capabilities and about developing highly advanced and enjoyable forms of
exercise. So, I've resumed the type of chaotic and creative experimenting
which I was heavily engaged in in my very early years. I will often spend a
half hour or an hour just letting my body move itself however it feels most
naturally inclined to move and watching myself intently, paying deep attention
to how the movements feel, and to all my other senses. It's been very
interesting watching the types of movements that develop, watching them
evolve. Because I'm paying so much attention, the types of movements which
feel good or are aesthetically pleasing in other ways tend to get reinforced,
for those reasons.
It's a fascinating study for me in evolution and spontaneous order. It's
also becoming increasingly pleasurable exercise. The only difficult part (and
the most important part) is learning to pay really deep attention to
everything, but the rewards from that are incredible! My senses have become
tremendously sharper than they ever were, and my awareness of my own thinking
has deepened, so my thoughts are much deeper and richer and generally more
rational and accurate. Plus, my body control is increasing tremendously, and
my movements in general are becoming much more graceful and efficient as I
learn to pay more attention to my movements.

I'm basically reprogramming my body and brain by just playing around and
letting my aesthetic and other values guide the whole learning process.
Playfulness is very important to me because it is basically my way of quickly
exploring alternate and very creative ways of doing things, then subjecting
them to the evolutionary, selective pressures in my mind and letting the best
ideas and ways of doing things prevail. Playfulness is my way of introducing
novelty into the system and testing it out. And the more I play, the more
confident I am that my most prevailant ideas are really good ideas because
I've given so many different ideas a fair chance to compete.
Of course, the more established ideas have a greater competitive advantage
due to being established and not necessarialy to being good ideas, but I can't
see a way around that. But there is some consolation in the thought that the
established ideas probably have a lot of merit to have become established in
the first place. Perhaps the most established ideas in my mind could be
considered my core values and that which I identify most with, so it's
probably a good thing that they are more difficult to change.

Another fun and interesting activity that I enjoy is sculpting without a
goal. I just take a lump of modeling clay (the kind that doesn't dry out)
and just start playing around with it, without trying to make it look like
anything in particular, with no final goal. I just pay intense attention to
how the clay looks and feels and to the ways my hands can change the shape of
the clay. I just watch the clay, and think of changes I can make to improve
what I already have, in simple ways, and then my hands make the changes, and I
continue the process. I have no goal in mind, just continual improvement of
what I have. I just play around, and it's very interesting to watch the
shapes that come out of this process. It's very much like the evolutionary
art programs on computers, but I'm using my mind to think of the possible
alterations I could make with what I have, to improve it, making those
alterations, and then iterating the process.
Generally, the shapes that come out are very wierd, interesting and
beautiful. They are generally very suggestive of many things, but they never
usually look like anything in particular, so the mind can't decide what it is,
but it almost looks like... a lot of things. The sculpture can be worked on
for an extendend period of time, and generally any time is a good stopping
point, and a good starting point for further modifications. There's also a
lot of good lessons in this activity on impermanence and non-attachment. It
also increases the strength and dexterity of the hands and improves hand-eye
coordination. Plus, I've noticed that it helps me become more clear about my
aesthetic values, since I have to continually use them to decide what changes
to make to the shape of the clay. And there may be some financial rewards
too, if one gets really good at this and can sell some of the sculptures.

I hope these activities are helpful to some of you, or at least that my ways
of approaching certain types of things are helpful. Also, if any of you have
any other good mind training activities you'd like to share, I'd be very
interested and appreciative.

David Musick