I’ve been reluctant to write for a while. There’ve been many reasons and many excuses. I was rebelling against my self-made obligation to write. I wanted to actually play, rather than write about play. I felt compelled yet simultaneously uninspired to add heavy research into my posts. But also, I stopped writing because I began to doubt the purpose and “mission” of this blog. I wondered if my seeking play and rest was an act of laziness and demotivation, rather than a worthy cause. I used to be stirred and passionate about social justice; while I still am, I also got tired. So I worried, is taking on a mission of play of lesser value? Am I choosing an easier route because I don’t want to face the hugeness of injustice? Perhaps. That’s certainly always a question. But when I’m being compassionate with myself, I can see that the purposes are integrated. There’s a need for self-care and finding time for play so that I can be ready to face the hugeness of the day. And there’s a need for finding joy amidst taking on the challenges of the world so that I will find the motivation to keep waking up and trying to chip away at one more inequitable brick.
When I’m being compassionate with myself, I also believe that there’s a reason for joy in education and youth work so that students will take an active interest in putting their energy and time towards an issue where they can feel motivated to right a wrong. But I’ve been struggling to successfully implement these ideas in my youth work. Creating opportunities for meaningful play wasn’t engaging the hearts and minds of my students like I had hoped and anticipated. I thought I had it all figured out. Provide meaningful opportunities; make learning hands-on; invite and nurture youth voice and student ownership; create leadership opportunities; bring joy into learning…and if you follow steps A, B, and C your students will be engaged, on fire, and self-motivated to take on their world! But man, it is not that easy. I spend so much energy just trying to focus the attention in the room—even if it’s to engage in a fun teambuilding activity in hopes that it will prepare the group for future, larger endeavors. In those moments I worry, will we get there? Will we ever get beyond this wrangling of chaotic energy and move towards a collective purpose?
I still don’t have the answers. I’m not sure if we’re getting anywhere or if this is an answer. But I’m willing to keep seeking, keep trying. And hopefully I’ll keep finding the motivation to share that journey here.