The importance of novelty

Craig: I’d like to talk a little bit about [00:12:30] the role of novelty, so part, it seems to me, of what makes those game structures work so well, is novelty levels the playing field. So if the game is novel to everyone in the room, then we’re all starting on the same place. And we have natural talents and strengths, but we’re all starting from the same place.

And it seems to me that you could also talk about the novelty that’s inherent in activities like attending a retreat, or this one is about winter, so we were doing things like going outside, intentionally underdressed, et cetera. And [00:13:00] we were hiking on a snow-packed, snow-covered trail. And I intentionally chose, knowing full well how this would work out, I intentionally chose to go in minimalist footwear with a pair of wool socks, knowing full well that my feet would be soaked, my toes would be frozen. And my intention was to go manage frostnip, was my plan for the day. Can I go and play in an environment where I would normally have on heavy shoes? Because that’s the safe thing, to protect your ankles. That’s the warm thing, that’s the dry thing, that’s the thing my mother is saying, “Put [00:13:30] your shoes on.”

So I’m wondering how necessary, how, I know that it’s important, but how deeply necessary is that novelty? Is it, one must find that novelty? Or if you find it once a month, that’s okay? Or should you seek it constantly? Do you have to get on an airplane and go to the International Gathering, versus just playing in your play lot? Like, how deep is that need for novelty?

Jesse: I think we can create a value [00:14:00] system around which novelty we prefer, but I don’t think that we need to. I think we can see that repetition is impossible, nothing will ever be the same as it was. Things are constantly changing. So everything is novel all the time, and whether or not we notice that is just up to our awareness. We can also intentionally create novelty. We can do something like not wear enough clothes, or challenge ourselves in some small but ridiculous way, and we can see what [00:14:30] comes of that.

And yeah, novelty levels the playing field. What that brings up for me is thinking about how, I think I heard Rafe Kelley say it first, talking about how kids play versus adults play. Adults play to win, and kids play to keep playing. And you can watch kids roughhouse, and they’ll change the rules of wrestling just so that either side can win. And it needs to be like 33/66, you need to have [00:15:00] like a third of a chance to win.

Craig: Yeah, a fair fight.

Jesse: And I noticed the same thing when I went to the International Gathering. We created a game, and there’s like six of us jumping around on these wooden beams. Then it stops being fun or somebody has really figured out a strategy, and it’s like, “We really gotta shake that up.” And we’re able to keep playing new versions of that same game for an hour and a half.

And how much jumping happened in an hour and a half? [00:15:30] Do you have to go to a CrossFit box and say, “You’re gonna do three sets of 60 box jumps.” What happens if you do 3 sets of 60 box jumps? Versus, “I think we jumped like 180 times. It felt good, we had fun, we connected with each other. I made friends in that moment that, I don’t know, I trust, I respect, I want to know more about.” It’s pretty powerful to [00:16:00] me. I know that happens at CrossFit as well.

Craig: Right. But the novelty is some sort of catalyst for—I’ve talked before about single serving size parkour friends—which I learned that from Fight Club. But there’s something about that novelty which makes those people click more quickly. So you could certainly find that novelty at any place. But that novelty is like a gateway drug to making that moment memorable, and making that moment deeper.

Jesse: Yeah. I think what I noticed, [00:16:30] finding all of these things that I was looking for in parkour and in the parkour community, and the people I was surrounding myself with, I thought it had to be that and it had to be in a certain way. It had to be pushing and challenge. It had to be doing something ridiculous, it had to be…and then maybe later it had to be training or having fun, or being able to goof off together. And now, what I see when [00:17:00] I sit in circle, is that I gain a deeper respect for everyone I’m sitting in circle with, and also everyone in my life. And I see elements of myself in different people, and I see ways that I’ve hurt people, ways that I’ve been hurt, new things to pay attention to, ways I can grow. It’s incredible.

Craig: Yeah, all because you’re listening.

Jesse: [00:17:30] Yeah, it’s a practice of listening.