I recently had the pleasure of helping a girl build a chair.
It was made from the off-cuts of a larger project and required every skill in hammering, sawing and envisioning that she had acquired over recent weeks, and at the end was about the size and shape of an old-fashioned sleigh.
During the process the girl maintained a near-constant monologue, supported only by my occasional noises of agreement.
“Do you think I’m the only eight year old anywhere who’s built their own furniture? I want to be a carpenter. Maybe I could do that for work experience. What did you do for work experience? Do you think my Mum will like this chair? Will I be able to keep it in the house? She might say it’s clutter. I could take it to Dad’s house. Do you think he’ll like it? It’s very heavy. It’s good, isn’t it? I could paint it this colour – I mixed it. Do you know how? With pink and purple and white. I’m good at purple. It’s the colour of my room. I went to the shop with my Mum and they mixed it up with those shots of colour and a big thing that went whirr. This is the best colour. I can’t paint the whole chair – how would I carry it? I’ll just paint the top. Lots of paint. All the lines going this way.”
I helped with some sawing (“Oh, you’re very quick”) and hammering after a bit of wood split and we had to use seasoned 2 x 4 instead of those shingley bits we’d originally collected. We were running out of wood and time so it got a bit ‘bang-it-all-together’ at the end, but strangely it didn’t feel rushed. It was as if there was lots to do in very little time, but no need at all to hurry. It was like watching someone conduct an orchestra.
It was the passing of play-time, in one direction but drawing on the whole world’s sources. It was the sensation of ‘flow’, and a perfect immersion in play and the creative process.