How to live a ludic life

So what does it mean, this funny little word? Ludic has its roots in the Latin word ludus meaning playful, and it hints at the possibility of living life in a less serious manner. I’m not an expert in this subject (who is?) but I thought it would make an interesting ramble; especially as I have a finely tuned sense of the absurd.

A quick trawl through the (occasionally accurate!) annals of Wikipedia suggests that ludic ideas are linked to anarchism, though I’m inclined to be cautious about this because just about every interesting idea out there claims to belong to a branch of anarchism – including the Internet itself.

After all, the Net can be seen as a creative project put together by a group of largely unpaid enthusiasts. Of course this paradigm cannot be applied universally: the chances are your ISP pays its staff.

So how does one live ludically? I think the first thing is to destructure your life; or at least try to be less reliant on routines. All of us can fall into the trap of repeating ourselves, and once spontaneity is lost life becomes dull.

Children are naturally playful and communal, but as we grow up we are strongly encouraged (and brutalised if we don’t) to conform to a rigidly hierarchical system where we are often measured against spurious benchmarks of ‘excellence’. Petty bureaucratic bores love such metrics, and it is arguably very hard to completely dispense with them.

The next step is to mentally focus on the more surreal aspects of life. Someone once told me that every single day contains a surreal event, but we are often too busy to notice. More about that later.

For example, last week I was out walking when I saw an abandoned car by the road. The front bumper was a wreck, the windscreen was crazed over and the passenger-side airbag was inflated. The car belonged to a driving school and it was easy to imagine a very pissed off instructor standing by the side of the road with a red face and an extremely embarrassed pupil. ‘How was your day?’ 🙂

Welcome as they are this is not just about belly laughs; it’s more a question of changing your focus slightly. Of shifting it sideways and taking a walk in Surreal Park.

Most people (myself included) are much too busy. Kick your shoes off, open a bottle of wine and cast your worries to the wind. The world can wait for a while. I don’t think it’s wise to put off your responsibilities forever, but postponing them can be as good as a two week holiday. After all, why worry?

So how can we learn to be more playful? The clue’s in the word: by playing! Surely playfulness is a form of creativity, but my idea of ludic living is about a more disciplined form of play. When was the last time you made something? Why not fly a kite, read a book or go to the cinema? Can you write short stories or poems? Can you paint, draw or invent a narrative? Or make a film!

If these things are beyond your reach then try this: buy a bottle of bubbles and take them with you wherever you go. Blow them when you feel like having fun.

To summarise:

  • destructure your life as far as possible (I’m not suggesting chaos)
  • focus on the surreal/more interesting aspects of life
  • try to be less busy
  • find as many creative outlets as you can

Please feel free to comment on these ideas and add some of your own. Off on a tangent, my spellchecker does not recognise the word ludic. Perhaps we need to expand our collective vocabularly if we are to have any hope of living better lives in our crazy mixed up world?

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