This past weekend I attended the annual Oklahoma Writers Federation Inc (OWFI) writing conference in Oklahoma City. For three days writers from all over the country gathered together to share their experiences and writing expertise. Starting at 9:00 in the morning through 4:00 in the afternoon, every hour on the hour, presentations and workshops were given by authors, agents, editors, and publishers to help guide and instruct all level of writers toward better writing, speaking, and publication. A famous author banquet held on Friday night acknowledged member’s books that were published in 2015. In addition, a costume contest was held where associates came dressed as their favorite characters in either books, film, or television. Steven James, our keynote speaker stressed the importance of the small moments in life we often rush by. On Saturday night, awards were presented for various contest categories.
While the conference is geared toward education and instruction, having a good time is stressed and encouraged. I considered the meeting as a grown-up playground. Over two hundred participants gathered together in one place with the same goal in mind. Energy was high. Joy and laughter filled the hotel to overflowing. Old friends hugged and kissed. New friends were embraced and welcomed. People smiled, said hello, held elevator doors open, please and thank you echoed through the halls. All of us were united as one collective consciousness of creativity.
I left the pressures of my day job in the parking lot. The stress of home and family was stuffed in the trunk to keep the spare tire company. I didn’t turn on the TV. Didn’t fret over transgender bathrooms, Donald or Hillary, Isis, whites, blacks, oranges or purples. My cell phone was only used to find out when the next meeting was or whose room was the designated after hours gathering place.
On the way home, however, I could actually feel the weight of the real world pulling on me. Old familiar feelings of irritation, depression, hopelessness, agitation, and boredom became stronger every mile I got closer to my own bed. Inspiration and motivation that dazzled so bright for days started to tarnish. Individuality, whimsy, and humor that were embraced just hours before morphed into judgement and ridicule. My high-pro glow dulled.
All of this made me realize the importance of play.
I would rather play and laugh then work any day. Who wouldn’t? But. Why can’t we do both at the same time? Why does work have to be boring and stressful? Why can’t I wear a black dress with green tights and an orange cowboy hat? Why isn’t laughter and creativity encouraged and acknowledged instead of squashed flat? What’s wrong with thinking outside of the box? Or the circle?
I suppose all the enlightened gurus would shake their heads and remind me, “A person makes their own happiness.” Since I strive to walk with the great masters and teachers, I’m being a big ol’ hypocrite for not following their advice; for allowing those negative feelings to affect me. So, I think I’ll put on my big yellow raincoat and boots, go outside and dance in the rain, pet a dog, smile at a perfect stranger, smell a rose or two, laugh and recapture my sanity.
Never underestimate the importance of play.
It does a body good.