My Other Project: Tricksters


I’ve mentioned my love of writing before, and writing has been my major focus this week. I’m giving a talk in Illinois this coming Sunday, which is one of my favorite things to do.  My emphasis is the trickster character, a fascinating figure present in many traditions including Native American stories and Greek mythology. Since I share pictures of my physical creations, I thought I’d share a few excerpts of my talk.

First, my introduction:

As we approach holidays that blur divisions and boundaries, such as Halloween and the Day of the Dead, I thought it would be fun to play with an ancient figure known as trickster, a character who does not recognize divisions and is often found with one foot on either side of boundaries. Tricksters are delightful characters because they weave in and out of reality. A trickster is interesting because he exposes rules by defying them and turns what seems to be inevitable and necessary into the ridiculous. Tricksters are useful because they model a playful approach to the world that can enable healthy and positive change.

It’s important to know that trickster is not a good or bad character – think of a trickster as being like a curious and adventurous toddler.

Here’s my favorite part thus far when I explain why it’s important to challenge boundaries and labels:

Motherhood has heightened my sensitivity to the use of titles. The common phrase for what I do is “stay-at-home-mom”, but that does not accurately reflect who I am or what I do at all. Yes, I’m a mother. I’m also a yogi, an artist, a friend, a writer, an aspiring minister, a private English tutor, a reader, a want to be drummer, a wife, and, as many of you witnessed during my last talk, an occasional dancer. Those labels don’t really do me justice either, and I can say this with absolute certainty: you are more than your title. You are more than the title of teacher, doctor, retiree, psychologist, lawyer, artist, librarian… You are a uniquely complex creature with hopes, dreams, experiences, and personality traits that cannot be summarized in a word or two.

Recognizing that we are more than our labels is one thing; the idea that other individuals are just as complex as we are can be difficult to grasp at times – that is when the act of putting in a trickster’s eye becomes useful. It’s not an eye of judgement, it’s a way of looking at people and situations that allows them to be more than they appear to be at first glance.

I’m almost done with it – I’ve enjoyed working on it a great deal, and I’m looking forward to learning what it sparks in others.

Playfully Yours,

Free Range Al


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