What I Learned From the Law… of the Playground

The Chute

I wrote in a comment on Damien Riley’s blog a wee while back, that:

I enjoy experimenting and playing with new things and, in many ways, my blog is my playground, and I’m kind of uncomfortable playing according to someone else’s rules. I want to go up the slide the wrong way, hang upside down on the climbing frame, and spin myself dizzy on the swings 🙂

When I was at the playground earlier this week, I was reminded of that comment, and I was struck by the way the analogy corresponds, not just to the way I blog, but to the way I live my life. I don’t enjoy living life on someone else’s terms, and I never really have; I find it too constrictive. Now, I’m not talking here of subverting criminal law, obviously! I’m talking here of societal laws which encourage conformity, the unspoken laws which, as a population, as a culture, as a society, we all implicitly understand and feel compelled to follow. Those that don’t comply are easily recognisable; they are those we call ‘eccentric’, ‘unusual’, ‘unconventional’. But they are also the ones who innovate, who expand our horizons and who extend our expectations. Our world is enhanced by their presence and their perspective. As Daz Cox recently wrote on his blog:

in order for a culture to be healthy there must be aberration, extremes, weirdness in the mix. It’s the concept good old Jim Morrison was talking about when he talked of shamanism. The shaman isn’t there to entertain you or even speak the truth he’s there to be different and by that very difference he strengthens the bonds of a society.

What I’ve found is that life is so much more fun if you bend, twist, warp those playground laws that keep us in our boxes, that regulate our play and dictate our way of being in the world.  And, as Daz stresses in his post, it’s not just healthy for ourselves and our own state of mind to practice this deviation, but it’s also beneficial for those around us, and essential for society at large.

Express, experiment, exhilerate. Existing is not enough.

If you want to see a visual metaphor for what I mean, watch this clip. I think you’ll like it 😉

Do you consider yourself an eccentric? Do you revel in your unconventionality? What have you done recently that celebrated your difference, your identity?

PS This post is a contribution to Robert’s What I Learned From The Law group writing project.

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March 9, 2008. Inspiration.

16 Comments

  1. Joanna Young replied:

    Amy, I loved this piece, it works on so many different levels 🙂

    I’m glad you found the time and the inspiration to contribute.

    I guess I am quite unconventional – although elements of my life have been extremely conventional I’ve found myself moving away from or rebelling against them most steps along the way. I don’t think I’ve quite accepted or embraced my unconventionality (yet!) which is maybe why my path has seemed quite a tricky one to traverse – being neither one thing nor the other.

    But there’s still time and I’m looking forward to embracing my eccentricity as I get older….

    This being one of my favourite poems:

    http://www.geocities.com/helsinki_p/Warning.html

    Joanna

    PS I notice I am already adopting some of the behaviours she describes, and don’t know whether to be delighted, or horrified, or both!

  2. barbara replied:

    Wonderful post. The clip is perfect – I’m inspired to go out and dance in the snow.

  3. Daz Cox replied:

    You should try street athletics like that in custom painted combat boots! 🙂

    Synchronisticly I just posted a story about being gloriously different right before popping over here!

    Life always gives us a chance to be eccentric, even if you live until you are a senior citizen without risking embarassment you can be gloriously eccentric and inspiring. Why do little old ladies have blue hair? because they can!

  4. Daz Cox replied:

    You should try street athletics like that in custom painted combat boots! 🙂

    Synchronisticly I just posted a story about being different right before popping over here!

    Life always gives us a chance to be eccentric, even if you live until you are a senior citizen without risking embarassment you can be gloriously eccentric and inspiring. Why do little old ladies have blue hair? because they can!

  5. Damien replied:

    I really liked that video. To me it speaks to working within the academic “bars and concrete” that I must and still being fluid. flexible, and creative in getting the job done.

    We live in a world where norms are encouraged and conformity is expected. I like people who are eccentric and a little weird. These people usually end up becoming the innovators that lead the way in all fields and arts.

  6. mrschili replied:

    On the outside, I am pretty common; a white, married mother of two who teaches English, drives a VW and goes to the grocery store. I’m kind of hard to pick out of a line-up.

    Where I differentiate myself, though, is in my embrace of diversity. I don’t just tolerate others, I revel in them. I started a gay/straight alliance at my college. I have a pride flag on the back of that VW. I’m teaching my children (both biological AND academic) to seek out the perspectives and experiences of others UNlike themselves so that they can make their own experiences richer. My environment is ALWAYS a safe place for people who don’t think/act/look like I do. It’s important to me.

  7. Jean Browman--Cheerful Monk replied:

    Thanks for your contribution to Robert’s What I Learned From… series. I wouldn’t have known about your site otherwise. I’ve added you to my technorati favorites.

    My contribution to WILF is much more prosaic:
    http://stresstopower.com/blog/2008/03/09/what-the-law-taught-me-about-stress-management/

  8. Debbie Yost replied:

    I’m the opposite of you. I follow the rules. I like structure. I don’t go against traffic. It’s so interesting to hear another’s point of view!

  9. Robert Hruzek replied:

    Amy, thanks for contributing to WILF this month! And that video – wow, how fun is that!

    Y’know, that’s a great metaphor for innovation WITHIN the box!

  10. amypalko replied:

    I just love that Jenny Joseph poem, Joanna! Thank you so much for linking to it. Oh, and you should most definitely be delighted 😉

    It makes me want to move too, Barbara!

    Ah, so that’s the reason for the blue rinse, Daz! I always wondered about that particular style choice in the over 70s demographic…

    Completely agree with you, Damien. Keep creatively moving round your space, my friend 🙂

    To tolerate the differences we see in others is a desirable trait indeed, Mrschili. However, you take it to the next step and seem to genuinely appreciate difference. The world needs more people with your outlook on life, Mrschili 🙂

    Welcome, Jean! I’m so glad you found me, and I look forward to hearing more from you here at Lives Less Ordinary.

    It’s always good to see life from a new perspective, isn’t it, Deb!

    I think you hit the nail on the head there, Robert. Innovation WITHIN the box – I love it! Oh, and thank you so much for taking the time every month to organise these wonderful writing projects. I have so enjoyed joining in these last few months 🙂

  11. Middle Zone Musings » All Entries: What I Learned From… the Law replied:

    […] Into Personal Power … Personal Injury Attorneys, by Debbie Yost at Three Weddings … the Law of the Playground, by Amy Palko at Lives Less Ordinary … the Law, by Lillie Ammann at A Writer’s Words, […]

  12. Penelope Anne replied:

    Amy love, may I use the photo of your paper cranes tomorrow? The theme is paper.
    Please email me if I may thank you.

    I love all that you have selected for the drawing, very neat items.

  13. amypalko replied:

    I’ve sent you an email, Penelope Anne 🙂

  14. What I Learned (so far) About the Law. » article » What Would Dad Say replied:

    […] Stress Into Personal Power … Personal Injury Attorneys, by Debbie Yost at Three Weddings … the Law of the Playground, by Amy Palko at [tag]Lives Less Ordinary[tag] … the Law, by Lillie Ammann at A Writer’s Words, […]

  15. Results from the What I Learned From the Law Group Writing Project } Group Writing Projects replied:

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  16. A Sunday Roundup « Lives Less Ordinary replied:

    […] by the entries that you read.  I’ve joined in the last 2 months (which you can read here and here) and only have positive things to say about my […]

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