Yesterday in class we had a guest lecturer come to Curtin to demonstrate the effectiveness of puppetry in counselling. Although I was sceptical, I was surprised with how well puppets could convey emotion, encourage discussion and depersonalise really sensitive issues. She made it so much easier to talk about things like violence, negligence, bullying, drugs etc. And she really was a master of her art, with thirty-seven different characters with their own unique personalities and voices. They are an extension of herself in many ways, and she brings them to life in the most amazing ways. She was not only entertaining to watch, but wonderful to be around. Her eyes shone with exuberance and excitement, overflowing with happiness and positive energy. One of the things she said which really sticks out for me is that by having clear energy, you can see and create clearly. Murky sight or dull thoughts only hinder you in your journey with someone. And by golly was her energy clear.

Along with her she brought a few bags which I suspected (rightly so) contained puppets for us to use during the tutorial. My first instinct was to run- maybe I could skip the lecture or go home before the tutorial began? But my second instinct was to find out why I had that as my first instinct- what was I afraid of? I knew this to be one of those unique lessons in my educational experience that I could learn so much from if I just had the courage to try it- Yu is a Japanese principle that basically outlines that fear should never be a reason to stop you from doing a good action. So I did it. I reached into the bag, pulled out a polar bear and sat it on the desk in front of me. At first we just stared at each other and I laughed at myself for eyeballing a toy. But then I just shoved my arm up its arse, started working its jaws and instantly new its name was Polo.  So Polo and I got talking, after a little embarrassment. He was a shy kinda guy, little bit slow in speech and thought but a good kid overall. He was obese, you see, and got teased a lot at school. His parents were obese too so he didn’t think it was a problem, but he didn’t really have any good friends and wasn’t a very strong swimmer.

When it was time to put Polo down for a little while, I found myself playing with him. I couldn’t help it- it was stupid, I know, but I’d just pick him up and make him walk around or do tumbles. I kinda wished Willy (the wombat sitting next to us) was more talkative so we could interact a little more. It was so childish, to talk to a toy and have it talk back, but it was so liberating. To stop caring what the grownups thought of me and to just play. Man, that was a hard step to take, but I learnt something incredibly valuable and surprisingly deep: when you remove all the barriers you set up, you are pure creativity. It flows from you, and all you have to do is channel it to create something beautiful. And this is something children access so easily- something that adults can access too if they wanted. And I learned that understanding this and the way a child sees the world allows you to connect with that child in a profound way, and with that connection, create something indescribably beautiful.

Might bust out some of my old toys and have a tea party. They deserve it.


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