Saturday, October 17, 2009

"Pinicular Work" ~ Sam Ohman

I wrote in my Must We Diagnose Max? post that I would write a post explaining what "pinicular work" is...

When Sam was about 3, he was doing what he loved to do the most at that time, and that was playing in the creek, moving stones and redirecting water. On this day, he said to me, “Mama, I’m doing really pinicular work.” He used to make up words all of the time, and we have often used his words regularly in our lives. But this word, pinicular, was the one we have used more than any other, and as I was writing my talk for the We Shine Unschooling Conference, I was able to finally truly understand what Sam really meant with his term “pinicular work”, and I gave it a proper definition (with his permission and approval, of course):

Pinicular work is a child’s own work ~ that which comes from deep within a child’s heart and is based in Who They Are and their Sheer Joy. Pinicular work may be disguised as insignificant play to those trained only to see the surface of the world and of life, but those of us who are able to see beyond and deeper…we know that pinicular work is the greatest and most noble of work.

And for the children who are engaged in their pinicular work, nothing more is needed or required of them. All they need in this moment is the sacred and respected space from their parents, to know that pursuing their pinicular work is good and right and exactly what they should be doing.

We are all here on this earth for the very reason of pursuing our own, unique and individual pinicular work.

When children are not allowed to find and pursue their own pinicular work, and instead have their work defined for them by others (as happens in all other lives except an unschooled one), then they are denied the most essential right of their existence here on earth…the right to truly know themSelves. And without truly knowing one’s Self, one cannot live beyond the superficial surface, let alone remain Whole.

That is exactly why this unschooling life allows us to see, live, feel, grow and dig deeper and more authentically than other paths in life…because our children are free to pursue their own pinicular work all of the time. They do not lose that connection with their spirit that is typically distracted out of us as we are told to move and live further and further away from our own pinicular work, and do other already-specified and defined work instead.

And so this is why it is crucial that we make it OUR work as adults in our children’s unschooling lives, to allow our children’s pinicular work to Be. Our work is to honor it, respect it and celebrate it…as it is. But first we have to be able to SEE it as that. And to see it as that, our work is to really LOOK and see the Truth beyond the surface…to see the source, the Shine and the magnitude of it all in allowing our children to remain Whole…and then to let go and let it flow…


  1. Fantastic post! And oh so true! Love it!

  2. this is awesome! But I got to ask: Are those some kind of white truffles?

  3. I love every single word. I hear hearts singing...

  4. Love seeing Sam's pinicular work throughout the years (you always have such awesome photos!). Your boys--and all of our unschooling kids--are so lucky to be able to recognize and pursue their passions throughout their whole lives (*whole* in both senses of the word), without having to wait for society to tell them it's the "right" time. What a gift, and such an under-appreciated one . . . <3

  5. Thanks, Anne....That was cool to see the thread running through the years....I also identify because I am so challenged to give myself permission to do MY pinicular work also...This is such a good reminder for me....My daughter's pinicular work has changed so much this year; perhaps I can get back to basics also and begin allowing more of my natural appreciation, again, of hers...

  6. What a beautiful post, and such wonderful pictures of Sam through the years. I especially love the one in the kitchen with the flour all over. ;)

  7. What a wonderful post! Thank you for sharing this, Anne!

  8. Love that word Pinicular and I totally heart the definition. ;)