plā′wėrk′ings, n. Portions of play matters consideration; draft formations.

Archive for August, 2015

Cities of function and fantasy

First, a short story: once, last week on the playground, two older boys were observed to be engaged in a moment of play (these two boys, you see, had been the same two who’d been exercising their subtle and not-so-subtle psychological malefactions on the other inhabitants of the playground at either end of the summer). This is the moment of play observed: there had been some filling of thin latex gloves with water by some children (one walked around the playground with his heavily-filled glove, proclaiming it to be some form of udder!); the two older boys filled their gloves and, finding that they swung in such a way that amused them, proceeded to hang them around their necks to form a pair of heavy breasts each; the boys tucked them into their t-shirts and bounced around, laughing.

I needed to write this because it was an observation of light relief in amongst some of their otherwise more challenging behaviours. I didn’t know what I was going to do with the writing of it until I went for a walk earlier on, several days away from the playground, thinking about the city. For ‘city’ here, you can also read ‘town’ or ‘any given urban area’. I got to thinking about how we go about our day-to-days in quite guided ways: the city is, despite our possible interpretations of freedom and free-will and the like, somewhat prescriptive. That is, everywhere there are subtle and not-so-subtle ways of telling us what to do, where to go, how to be. We can do certain things here and here and here: the city is a functional place. What if we could actually just do our own equivalent of the older boys’ latex glove play? Or rather, by extension, what if the city weren’t so layered with the functional ‘do this here and do this there’ as it is? Would it all break down?

Many, many years ago, at architecture school, we were given the project of designing a city, I remember. Being young and more naïve than I am now, my project co-students and me designed what I now see as being a ridiculously functionalist, largely science-fiction-based, quartered, quasi-Utopia which was neither living nor liveable in. We had long debates about where we’d plant the dead, where the workers would be placed, and so on. Our cities aren’t like that now, are they?

What we didn’t know back then was that cities carry messages, many millions of messages, and we’re all subtly and not-so-subtly floated along in the stream of ‘do this and do that’: on the obvious level there are direct signs, but there are also roads and paths and railway lines that convey the message that this is a route from A to B and not for XYZ other endeavours; within this infrastructure there are the various architectures that have their space or social designation written in their size or decoration or the like; there are open spaces, which are really enclosed spaces, with their messages of ‘escape’, or ‘temporary use’, or ‘be restored’; there are skateparks or fixed play equipment areas (which I always want to write as ‘fixed play areas’), which carry in them the message that this is a corral in which, and only in which, it’s acceptable to be creative, inventive, free-spirited (which in the case of the former is often within replications of props of the wider urban environment, and in the case of the latter is a place that often resembles zoo enclosures built for captured gorillas). The city is, in short, full of messages about the designated function of its constituent parts: use this part in this way.

Would society collapse irrevocably if we played with the infrastructure (put everything of absolute necessity for conveying humans from Point A to Point B underground)? How might we then use the strips we formerly called roads? What if we took down all the fences (which carry their messages in their size, position, degree of hostility, and the fact that they’re there at all)? Could we learn to transfer all our received mistrust of others into an ability to share? What if the acceptable captivity of children’s fixed play equipment areas (or teenagers’ skateparks) — transmitted to us at present by tucking them neatly out of the way under the auspices of ‘safety’ — were exploded from its current ghettoisation into the greater city-scape?

This is not just a question of child and adolescent play though: if the city were less ‘guided’ it would be less so for all of us, adults too. We may think we’re free of mind to come and go but maybe we’re not. A little Nietzsche might illustrate my thinking:

‘Absolute free will can only be imagined as purposeless . . .’

What if we could do our own equivalent of the latex glove play in the less guided city? Messages might still be apparent in our day-to-days but at least the bombardment wouldn’t be so fierce. In this strange new world, we wouldn’t have the eyebrow-raising, the comments, or the disapprovals that we often currently find hidden, or overtly shown, in the actions of others. In this odd new place, no-one would be concerned at the ‘being me’ or the ‘being some experimental me’ exhibited in the play. We might think we’re pretty liberal now, but we’re less than absolutely tolerant: all the messages we’ve absorbed have affected us.

In conclusion, let’s rewind a little. The latex glove play example is an odd (and slightly flippant) one to choose, but I use it here now because it has its comic extremity: imagine, let’s all walk around with latex gloves hanging inside our clothing and no-one bats an eyelid, or cares! Or, imagine the city is a continuous carnival, not a three-day affair. Or, imagine, instead of adding something ridiculous to the city, let’s take away the ridiculous elements of all the subtle and not-so-subtle messages: the dominance of the conveyance infrastructure — where convenience is superseded by capital necessity; the fences and the enclosures, demarcating forbidden trespass and acceptable usage; the ghettos where play can be allowed to happen . . .

Perhaps this odd city I’m dreaming up, a city of fantasy rather than of function, is just as quasi-Utopian as the naïve functional science-fiction city of my student days. Call it an exercise in thought, an operation on the city as it is (with optional latex gloves!)

Nietzsche, F. (undated) in Spariosu, M. (1989), Dionysus reborn. Ithaca, NY: Cornell University Press. Cited in Sutton-Smith, B. (1997), The ambiguity of play. Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press.

Play and language

For a couple of weeks now, on and off, and as touched upon in my previous post, I’ve been quietly observing the way that two particular children are playing. Theirs is a forming relationship, with no ‘outcome’ or ‘yes, we’re there’ about it (I don’t know the beginning of it and it almost feels as if there was no beginning: it just happened). What fascinates the most about this forming play and relationship between these two girls is that one of them doesn’t speak English (or, if she speaks a little, it’s rarely heard). In fact, this younger child of around eight or nine, I suppose, barely says anything to us at all. She has, however, almost always been in play with the other girl.

One simple observation highlights, I trust, my fascination of the play: I was standing up high, up out of the way of things one day, for a few minutes, when I saw the two girls over by the sandpit. One of them had dragged over the old buggy we have on site, which I’ve been surprised to find gets its fair use in the play. I couldn’t hear what was being said, if anything at all, but the girl who spoke no English clearly had ideas in the narrative of the play she wanted to unfold. By means of pointing and double pointing, gesturing towards the buggy, and other hand and facial gestures, the suggestion seemed to be that one of the children would be the baby, in the buggy, and the other would play a different role. Then they swapped. This needed no words, it seemed.

I’ve really wanted to ask the girl who does speak English what’s going on in the play. However, this I know wouldn’t be good because then I’m effectively asking the child to analyse her play (in a low level kind of way). So, I haven’t asked, though I want to know about the way the girls communicate from an insider’s point of view. I speak to the girl who doesn’t speak English, on occasion, as she passes by on the playground and if she looks my way, though the other child, I remember once said, ‘She doesn’t speak English, you know?’ and this is all I know directly from her.

I have known adults who have been of the opinion that children can’t possibly interact without a common language. They’ve said it in so many words. This is, of course, theoretically and observationally rubbish. I’m reminded of a time, over twenty years ago now, when I lived and worked in Germany for a short while. I was at a Jugendhaus (Youth House), and whilst I attempted to use my abbreviated German in my interactions in the play, what I found was that, ultimately, I didn’t need this or English. When we connect, we connect, and (following a small digression here) one child showed me that this had happened with the paper offering she’d made me. Such small things are significant, or can be, and can last a long time. Only recently, I was offered a token of gratitude, as I read it, from a child I made time for, she having gone out of her way to make her gift. She didn’t say what the gift was for. A failure to be able to converse in mutual languages yet to connect in other ways, in the significance of my memory, has also taken place in Holland and in Sweden, to name just two other examples (my favourite stories of being on a plane in Amsterdam — where a child cleverly communicated to me without words, and whilst visiting an outside school near Stockholm — where a child gave me an offering for whatever reason she chose).

Tokens of gratitude are not what we do the job for, but these things are written here to show that children can communicate in ways we don’t often do in the adult world. Sometimes, the tokens and offerings aren’t made things at all; rather, they’re gestures of connection for communications made or listening having taken place, or they’re thanks in other ways. When children tell you the simple tales of their day-to-days, what positives can you glean from them having chosen to tell you these instead of anyone else?

It works in other ways too. I watch on, sometimes, as my colleagues engage in certain on-going conversations with certain children, relating, understanding, or learning to understand them: then, those children choose those adults to tip a bucket of water over, to swear at in exaggerated fashion, or to lie to in such a way because they know that that adult can and will take it, or will accept it, or will intuitively know that what is being said beneath isn’t what is being said.

Returning to the child who doesn’t speak English and the child who does and to their play: in the brief moments when they’ve not been in the play together, for whatever reason, I have seen that there’s almost a magnetic pulling of one back to the other. They have sought each other out, and they have found each other on the playground somewhere, before going off poking around the hidey holes of the place again. The bond of play, of other forms of communicating, has become strong for these two children.

Today, the child who doesn’t speak English was on the playground but the other girl wasn’t there. I noticed this early on because it felt unusual to see the first child unattached as she was. A little later though, near the gate, I noticed another girl, a little older, was talking with her, in English, and this child looked at me and said (half to me, half speaking out loud in mock exasperation) ‘I don’t know how to say this in Italian!’ I told her I didn’t know either. The girls played though. Later, I saw them inside together sat on the sofa. One of the boys was saying his only Italian word at the girls, in exaggerated fashion, being (as he translated) ‘Cheese! Cheese!’ I hit on the idea of bringing the laptop out and communicating through Google Translate. It took the girl who didn’t speak English a little while to figure out what the other girl was trying to type in, and that she could type back, but eventually it happened. In returning to the main theme of this writing though, the girl who didn’t speak English indicated she wanted the other girl to go outside with her. The English-speaking girl came running in a few minutes later, banging on the office door. ‘I only need one thing,’ she said. ‘Tell me how to say do you want to play?’ I don’t think she even needed this: another pairing had bonded via play.

Of course, we see this bonding all the time in various formations of children on the playground: there are small pockets of players who gravitate to one another, and there are larger pockets who disperse and re-form in almost tribal fashion when anything significant is about to happen. The bonding can cross the socio-economic and ethnic parcelling that the adult world seems to like to create so much. There are common denominators of play, but the play and bonding could also be seen in terms of children’s connection in awareness of mischievous intent, in their latent or repressed types of play (or play types engaged in), in their calculated intentions to disrupt, and so on.

Positively play is, in short, often beyond words and the need for words. Connections are deep-seated, or become this way, and play is glue (wishing to avoid the instrumental rhetoric of words and phrases such as ‘play is a tool for xyz’): play is glue, or magnetic.

Playground time

If you work on an adventure playground of some description, you may have an idea of what I mean by ‘playground time’. Maybe there’s the equivalent of ‘playground time’ in any place where children occupy a particular site for any significant period of a day. That’ll be an observation or being-in-the-moment for a future occasion’s study. For now, I’m calling it ‘playground time’. I’ve written about it before, here and there, and I wanted to return to it today in more detail.

I’ve been flitting in and out of the playground this summer. Some days over the past few weeks I’ve worked at a playscheme for children with learning difficulties or physical disabilities; some days I’ve worked with younger children in the local parks; other days I’ve come back to the playground. I have always sort of known of some kind of playground time (even before I was working in such places, and when I didn’t have such thinking processes as now passing by): there is time that is sort of ‘out of the ordinary focus’ of the usual adult day-to-days. When you’re in and out of it, as I have been lately, there’s a resettling process, a re-absorption, that can take place.

This summer, early on, there were some difficult days. Some older children sucked up all the energy of the place. Maybe there are eddies that form, leaving holes that you can’t see through or beyond. Run with that for a little while: when I feel like I’m in a treadmill of hours of anticipating anxieties or fire-fighting on the playground, going from one ‘what-now?’ to the next, I either forget to see the whole or I can’t see it so well any more. What happens in the younger children’s play, in the quiet children’s play, in the corners of the playground, in the forming dens, in the in-betweens and what-might-be? All of this gets swamped when in crisis mode.

Now, summer has eased itself into a kind of flow. That is, playground time has kicked in, as a whole, and in the individual days. We’re past the mid-way point of summer, and although some playworkers, some days, seem to be running on sugar fumes, or taking extra breaks because they’re needed, the particular anxieties of the first few days have left for a while. Relationships between children and between children and playworkers are flowing in that ‘just pick up where it was left off yesterday’ kind of way.

When I’m in and out of the playground, over days, I have to potter around for a little while, in the morning, before the children come in; I have to re-tune to the greater whole of playground time that I feel my colleagues continue to be in because they’re already immersed to some degree. This is a personal affect, I know, because I like to catch the feeling of the whole of the place (or, as much of it as I can absorb in any one go, which takes some perceptive ‘letting in’): the re-tuning process may not affect a colleague in the same way. I don’t know.

When I’m not in the playground time flow, I realised recently after half a session, I ‘see’ only twenty feet or so around me. Things pass me by. That is, I see things going on beyond that radius, but I don’t pick up on them so well. When ‘in’ playground time, I see the far side of the playground and I sense when certain children are or aren’t on-site; I can better anticipate the play that’s forming; I can leave better alone, let things unfold without undue intervention, taking a dynamic risk assessment consideration in trusting the children I’m observing. When ‘in’ playground time, I can feel the way that lulls and agitations form and peter out. Time seems to have a different texture to it. This works across days as well as in the day itself. It’s not that it stops and starts, but rather it’s always there and I have to hook into it.

Relating to certain individual children (or the ‘how’ of all of that) shows my position in playground time to myself. One of the older girls lives in a block just down the road from the playground: she’s recently come back to us after a period of choosing not to come. Over the summer, she’ll come by and tell small moments of her life. She came into the office as I sat poking around on the computer. The door was open to all the play sounds of the hall and playground beyond. She sat and we just talked. Another boy flopped down on the sofa outside the office door and said, matter-of-factly that he’d been coming for five years now, implying that he’s part of the furniture and that he practically works there. Playground time works in small and continued ways.

Another older boy, who’s also just returned after a period of choosing to stay away, has played table tennis outside practically every day, game after game. There seems to me to be an absence in time if he’s not there. I watch on, each day I’m on the playground, as two Italian children navigate their ways through either prolonged stays at the pool table or intricate navigations around the hidey holes of the whole place (in the case of the younger girl, leading and being led by a friend by the language of play and an ever-evolving system of gestures and in-between language vocalisations). There is another sub-plot forming in the place, which is the gentle jostling for peer group leader status, now that the usual older group aren’t around for a while. It leads to different ways of playing, different spins off one another.

In playground time, I observed how three children struggled amongst themselves, in the rain, to construct a roof of carpet between parts of the platform structures that have been added to the original recently. I watched on carefully from a distance, and peripherally, thinking how they might slip, but seeing how careful they were being, how they were helping one another, how they could evidently see the possible hazards because they were arranging things. It was a careful standing back, and not a presumptuous and unnecessary intervention.

In playground time, in the pouring rain, I see how the children seem to love the new waterslide. There is no time. Everything happens when it needs to happen. This includes the way that (beyond my twenty feet radius of ‘not being in it all’ days) I see the way my colleagues are working with and for children at the periphery of my sight, bringing and fetching resources, being in and around the kitchen, sitting and talking with children, arranging the hose for the slide, and so on.

Playground time is flow, for sure, but it’s also part of the myth-magical dimension of the playground: there is a narrative that takes place in the forming moment, which is part of days and weeks. Playground time is the continuing story of the place where the play happens. In the overall story there are many, many stories taking shape and bubbling away. When one child comes onto the playground, we often call him by his chosen nickname. When another child asked me why we call him that, I said ‘because, last summer, he used that one word all the time, and so it stuck’. When I talked with a couple of boys last week (feeling quite protective of the girl they were targeting with water balloons), I told them how she was targeted so much last summer. In playground time, I can see how one older boy is flourishing because he has space to express himself these past few days; I can see how certain individuals’ presences brighten the place when they return after some days away; I can see how certain children’s creative play gradually smears itself across the playground. The playground too, in playground time, is a shifting creature: it twists and turns in its ever-changing shapes and forms. The moving built environment around the play moulds that play in some ways.

I wonder how much the children feel playground time in these ways I describe above. There is a window, some days, when some children seem to feel the imminent coming to an end of that day’s play on-site. They’ll ask what the time is. Playground time fractures a little towards the end of the session: sometimes there’ll be agitations forming and bubbling over, where play was all flowing along before this. Of course, if seen literally, playground time is gone for the day when all the children have eventually left the site, but it seems just to be in stasis, always sort of there, when the summer flow has kicked in: the next day, though there’s quite often a period of poking around at the start of the new session, play and flow picks up somewhere close to where it was the previous day.

Being out of it, for any significant period, can be a little disorientating for this playworker. The stories of the narrative whole can be picked up again though, but it takes a little morning drifting (litter picking, floating around picking up bits of wood, looking out for signs of play that has happened here, maybe, whilst scuffing around in the wet grass). Play and playworking, perhaps, follow similar arcs in and of time.

The conscious stance of playworking

Certain forms of play, and certain individual children, can really challenge a playworker (irrespective of that playworker’s experience). I very much doubt there’s a playworker with the ability to relate to every single child they ever meet; or rather, I doubt there’s a playworker who every single child can cope with being around. Sometimes we don’t try but still our presence will aggravate some child. We can choose to take this personally, or we can choose another strategy. Sometimes, our conscious actions can aggravate all the more. We can choose strategies we think will make things all the better for the majority of the children on site, or we can choose yet another strategy for being in amongst this children’s rarefied world. In reality, conscious playworking is not straightforward, not so binary, not so ‘this is how to do it’.

Here is the context to this thinking today: last week, being the first week of open access school holiday provision at the playground, there was plenty of the usual posturing and antics from a handful of the older boys (supplemented by some of the older girls’ support or antagonism tactics, and a sprinkling of some of the younger girls’ emotions thrown into the mix to boot). Some of the older boys use various means to rule the roost. They variously engage in covert coercion tactics, diversions with playwork staff and outright, chest out, full blown stand-offs with one another. Their play, which in the calm of this writing the other side of the weekend, can still be seen as play (albeit disruptive and designed to antagonise others) sometimes results in other younger children skirting around the edges, steering clear, or not doing the things they want to do in the places they want to do them.

I made playdough one day, because one of the girls had asked for it the day before, and I left it out for the children. The older boys started throwing it around at each other and aiming it at others. There was very quickly no playdough left. I made more later, but the girl who wanted it that day couldn’t play with it how and where she wanted to: the boys had ripped it apart and attacked people again. Their play also involved jockeying for ‘top dog’ status, or acting up around the ‘top dog’, or inciting low-level verbal attacks, or the like. It was exhausting for the playwork team. It was the first week, and I had worked only part of that week on the playground myself, and by the end of the week I was already very low in sugar and desire to go about the work of providing for play.

There is undeniably the to and fro of power shifting taking place when any given playworker puts himself or herself into the position of trying to support, and even things out for, all the children. You get spread very thin. You try to do the right thing. You end up focusing only on the few who rule the roost, and you want to see the play of all the other children: you want to know if it’s there still, how it’s there if it is, what happens, and how it might be better supported. You end up, however, just aggravating the individual children who are sucking up all the attention, energy, and will.

By Friday morning I was already thoroughly exhausted. I got in early and decided I needed just to sit still on the grass and take in the world. My colleagues got on with various tasks that needed doing: cutting the grass, litter picking, admin work, bits and pieces of building. I wasn’t doing nothing. I was collecting. I sat there for a while, and somewhere in amongst all of this I realised that, the day before, I was probably part of the problem. I had got in the way of certain individual children who were aggravating others, who were aggravating me and my colleagues; I was trying to do ‘the right thing’ but ended up, evidently, making things worse. I had already decided that today would be different for me, on my walk into work: I decided I would consciously keep as low a profile as I possibly could on Friday. I would do what needed to be done (not the bare minimum, but everything that needed me, and anything that I could also do if it didn’t risk aggravation on anyone’s part). I went about my later morning tasks until the children came to the playground (mixing buckets of powder paint, incidentally, under a slow running tap, is recommended as a form of meditative centring technique!)

Now, I’ve not always been an advocate of the playwork stance that is ‘being invisible’, preferring instead the idea that a playworker will relate when needed to relate. Even this is too simplistic an interpretation, too binary a telling, of ways of playworking. When the children began to come in, however, I had the sudden realisation that, even though I was trying to stay well out of the way, I was still somewhat in the way because of a few reasons: (i) I’ve noted from previous observation of colleagues on the playground, and from reflection on my own practice, that we often tend towards operating in certain favoured zones — it might feel like ‘patrolling’; (ii) I’m taller than (most of) the children, sticking out in the middle of things; (iii) I tend to prefer walking or standing rather than sitting because I like to be able to see plenty of things in my observations; (iv) I often tend to position myself in parts of the playground, if not in the middle of things, then where I can see most of everything with just a sweep of the head. All of this, I released, might contribute to being too in the midst of things, too present, too much of a potential aggravation, even if not actually physically being in the middle of the playground. If what I’ve said or done previously has affected the children, then if they don’t know I’m there, currently, there may be less chance of my presence becoming a catalyst for inflaming past agitations. This does lead to the thinking that is, ‘well, what then is the point of me being on the playground?’, which I shall return to shortly.

The day was a conscious effort to be ‘other’ than the day before. I sat instead of stood; I tried out positions where I knew I was always lower down than the children who moved and played around me; I interacted with children, on their request and cue, who I hadn’t interacted with for a while, because I hadn’t taken the time for them or because the older boys had often taken up all my observational and interactive energy. The session started off quietly, as it often does, and then quietly rumbled along in similar fashion.

I saw a colleague eating from a bowl whilst sat down in one of the old people’s home chairs, which still cling on to life in various places around the site: he was sat near the fence, in the shade of the tree of what we call ‘the outside office’ (a sometimes den, a sometimes debriefing place). I only noticed him there because he moved to bring the spoon to his mouth. It was a good place, I found later, to observe from. I couldn’t see everything that was going on around the playground (the door to the main room inside was blocked from my view, as was the main gate around the corner, and a good portion of the far side of the playground), but I could see the main strip where the pool table functions as the social centre of the place, the wedge of open ground that is a main route towards the structures, the ‘tree house’ where the new water slide is, and in the far corner, in the haze, the latest incarnation of the ever-changing ‘mad house’ (a pallet construction which children add to with new wood, nails, drills, paint, and tarpaulins), with a small group of industrious children attending to it like ants quietly building.

I sat there in the shade for a good long while. I stayed very still but I concentrated very hard on what I was seeing. This was my purpose today, I then realised. I was ready if I was needed by any colleague or child, but I wasn’t necessary to get in the way. The knowing playworker understands that his or her colleague who sits in the shade of a tree for a good long time isn’t shirking responsibilities: they know that they’re concentrating very hard. I was able to see (as I have known but re-realised again) that certain children also have their certain preferred favoured zones (just as the playworkers do); I could see how little bubbles of potential agitations formed, then dissipated, as if watching in slow motion, because no adult aggravated the situation (though they could have intervened, and might have been justified in so doing had they done so); I was able to see how the children who didn’t have so defined a zonal area of comfort moved around — one girl of around ten was the ‘butterfly child’ (she slowly flitted from one place to another: she didn’t seem to have a plan of action, something caught her eye, something happened in her head, she flitted towards the attraction or decided otherwise, she floated around in almost curvilinear fashion, caught on the breeze, smiling, or daydreaming). I saw how two colleagues engaged with an older boy in chase tap play and how he had all of their attention to himself, because he willed it that way, but he seemed absolutely in the flow of that attention. When another colleague drifted inside with all the other older boys, I wanted to know what was happening, but I resisted the curiosity because my presence would have changed things. I found out later that they’d all chilled out on the sofa and chairs, talking. I think they, and we, all needed this.

As the day went on, I kept to my very conscious playworking stance: I endeavoured to keep physically lower, where possible, to sit more, to observe in places I wouldn’t normally operate in, to lessen my possible aggravational impact. I was able to relate to children, at their request, in very considered ways. Later, when other children attempted to cue me into hassling or chasing them around at the end of the session (a common distraction technique to prolong the eventual closing of the gates), I refused to return those cues: to have my buttons pushed. I ignored them, and the children wandered off (until I couldn’t resist with the final child at the gate, him smiling in a way to suggest that he’d won my attention after all, and I got a kick in the shin for my efforts, prompting a colleague to rightly tell me that I deserved that!)

The playworking conclusions I can draw from this conscious stance (and reflections on it) are that, although we may not be the sole cause of agitations of days we wish would pass more quickly than others, we can inadvertently (and otherwise) be an aggravating contributor to it all; we can choose our actions (our height and position, our movements and words) and our apparent inactions; we need our firm resolve about us to enact our decisions and to keep them going (or to change them if they’re not working out); we need the will to resist curiosities that can function better without our presence; we can observe things we either hadn’t seen before or were re-realising again, if we know that what we’re doing in the observing is also important in the greater scheme of things; we can sit and think and not plough headlong into another day, especially if that day is one we’re not looking forward to.

When all is said and done, I believe, the conscious stance is preferable.

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