‘Zori, you need to understand: there are no problems.”
I looked in my friend’s big black eyes and tried to grasp what he was saying. It wasn’t easy. For as long back as I could remember, I’d been looking for a meaningful problem to dedicate my life to. I’d been an entrepreneur ever since I graduated, moving from one failed startup to another. Every time I’d pick up a problem that sounded good, work with some awesome people to create a solution to it and eventually find out it wasn’t such a big problem after all, that the solution I’d created created more problems than it solved or that I simply didn’t believe in it enough to push until it works.
I’d come to Bali looking for inspiration for my next project and I was pretty sure I’d found it. I’d seen a huge amount of plastic washed up on the beach in Canggu and felt like I needed to do something about it. Unlike software, plastic was something tangible, something I could see and touch and felt like an urgent and important thing to save humanity and the planet from. I needed some more convincing that this wasn’t a problem.
It took me another week to bump into the person who delivered the final blow on my search for a meaningful problem to save humanity from. His name was Jem Bendell – a respected British professor in sustainability and environment, working with the United Nations, writing articles for Washington Post. As we were sitting and chatting about random things after an improv class we attended, he dropped the bomb on me:
“It’s been almost two decades since we crossed the point of no return when it comes to climate change. Things are only going to get worse – extreme weather, draughts, floods, food shortages, social unrest, wars… There are scientists who believe we have no more than 10 years left and based on what I know, it feels that they are not too far from the truth.”
(You can check out his paper on the topic here).
I was struck by his statement but even more so – by my reaction to it. I imagined all the plastic lying on the beach 10 years from now, no humans, just cockroaches crawling around not caring too much about the environmental impacts or aesthetics of the beach they called home. Life would go on without us and eventually bounce back. Or die off entirely and still continue elsewhere in the universe. Plastic was only a problem as long as there were humans to think so. I finally understood:
“There really are no problems! Humans invent problems and then make solutions to fix them, in the name of progress and comfort. There is no objective meaning in this – it’s just a game we play!”
So what if we had just 10 years? Or 60 years? Or a single day? Maybe it wasn’t the entire humanity dying, maybe it was just me. I was going to die eventually. I realised that:
“If I step out of my saviour mode and embrace my mortality and the fact that there are no objectively meaningful problems to solve, I’d spend as much time as I could doing things that make me feel alive! And that in my case this means connecting – to different aspects of myself, others and nature, in a state of full presence and immersion into the incredible gift called life that we’ve all been given. I’d explore and play with connection and create spaces to share it with others and celebrate life together.”
I’d choose to do this regardless of whether I have a day or 60 years more left on Earth. What’s more – connection is me, it is my essence, the thing that has made me shine, for as long as I can remember. The thing I know how to do best, but I never imagined I could commit my life to. The thing I’ve actually been doing all along, while telling myself I was studying or making startups. It’s been my special gift that kept my social life, personal and business relationships flourishing regardless of what else was going on in my life. It was the first time in my life I felt such commitment and peace with myself and where I was headed. My direction was simply: connection. In a matter of days,
The Connection Playground idea was born: a community that comes together to explore different ways to connect to ourselves, each other and nature through play.
It all started in a yoga shala in Ubud where we got together each week to experiment with different practices and workshop-style activities. It was a space to share, learn and play with the amazing people around me, based on the beliefs that:
1. a person in a state of full alignment with their true essence and its different aspects can’t help but live a full, healthy, beautiful and inspiring life;
2. love and flourishing relationships are a core need of every human and a natural outcome of healthy conscious living beings connecting to one another;
3. nature is inside us and all around us, always there to support us abundantly with everything we need, as long as we know how to receive its gifts and allow the deep intelligence called life to come forth and help us out.
4. all of this can be enhanced through practice – we can create spaces to experiment with and deepen our connectedness with ourselves, each other and nature. And it’s so much fun when we do it together!
The playground has been all about community and sharing – we all present ourselves with our gifts and our toys, just like we did when we were kids.
Each of us has our own experience and approaches when it comes to connection. We have our gifts – some of us are trained in teaching a certain activity to others, others have our daily rituals and practices we’ve been mastering for a long time for their own benefit. We also have our toys – some of us have attended a fun workshop at some point they’d love to try out again in a group, others simply feel passionate about something they are exploring right now and want to experiment with it. Anything goes, as long as we see a way to transform it into a shared experience and feel like stepping up to share it.
In 15 weeks of playground in Ubud, we’ve explored more than 45 different activities.
Different kinds of meditation, dance, massage, shamanic drum journeying, ASMR, authentic relating/circling, plant dance, vision quests, hunting for pleasure, hunting on each other, goddess reggae yoga, archetypes exploration, breathwork, energy work, heart opening circles, contant improvisation, wheel of consent, toning, craniosacral therapy, white tantra and conscious sexuality, shifting money beliefs, masterminds… The list goes on as 4 of my dearest friends and playmates are keeping the space alive in Ubud and will continue as it spreads to new places (starting with Cluj, where I am currently based). Which brings me to the last point:
I’d like to invite you to join us, regardless of where you are! If you love connection and are curious to explore different ways to play with it, you can now sign up and be notified when we launch the connectionplayground.org platform.
In it, you will be able to find information about lots of exciting practices you can play with in your own time or with your friends, connect with more experienced people who can support you in mastering those, find online and offline events and communities you can join and more.
You can also join us as a playmaker!
Maybe you want to create such online or offline spaces of connection for your community. Maybe you already have one and want to become part of our network. Maybe you want to offer your knowledge and mastery in certain areas via one-on-one support or events you are organizing. Your work can be free, donation-based or paid – everything is welcome and we’ll be happy to promote it in our community as long as it relates to connection. Reach out to me and say hello. I’d love to hear from you and see how we can collaborate and make your work accessible in our platform.
Last but not least – I’d like to thank everyone who’s helped co-create the playground space in the last months!
You guys have been so awesome and inspiring and I feel sooooo grateful to have shared all this with you. I’m looking forward to working together to spread the spirit of playfulness, exploration and connection as far as our imagination and inspiration brings us. I want to give you proper credit for your work and co-create opportunities for sharing it with a wider audience – get in touch with me and let’s talk about it. Love you all!