Behind extraordinary ideas, there are extraordinary people. Dumbo Feather is a magazine about these people.
Gwen Gordon is full of joy. I love the way she approaches life, with an unbounded playful curiosity, a willingness to throw herself into what’s in front of her and a deep desire to help us all find our joy.
At 19 Gwen started working for Jim Henson on the Muppet’s Take Manhattan Movie and joined Sesame Street; creating new characters at the peak of global puppet popularity, living the dream life of a craft-loving creative. The problem was, she wasn’t happy. Partly because her active study of philosophy and social theory led her to have concerns with Kermit – a cold-blooded reptile and male lead, and Miss Piggy, the one-dimensional female supporting role. But it wasn’t just that, Gwen felt herself burning out fast. Despite having a great job working on Sesame Street, she was becoming overworked and stressed. From a young age, Gwen had followed her joy on the playground but now everything she did was measured on the proving ground.
The proving ground is where we live most of the time. It’s anywhere we feel a sense of having to continuously achieve in order to prove our value. On the proving ground we feel threatened and insecure. We trust less, risk less and stay away from ambiguity and strangeness. It’s not a great place, but it’s where we live. The playground is where security is inherent. On the playground we trust more, feel greater freedom and, as Gwen put’s it “hopefully get a glimpse of our true nature”. Our work, our home life, our inner world are all places that can be experienced as either a proving ground or a playground.
How do we make these places playgrounds? Gwen will lead you there, it’s the work she does. But first thing I think you should do is take a deep breath and become a little more present. It’s time to play.