Growing up, my sister and I did not have a lot of dolls. In total, we had two barbies. And the way we played with them was that we created this whole house for them using stools for rooms, and the basket in which we kept our clothes, as their bed. We made shoes for them from clay, and furniture for the rooms using blocks. Sometimes we played with cut-out dolls for whom we used to make paper clothes. My sister is five years younger than me, and I remember playing dolls with her until I was quite old actually – nearly 13.
I was reminiscing about those days, while cleaning up Anji’s doll house last night. I am usually taken aback by how lightly she treats her toys, and how messy the doll house looks (perhaps a window into her future house-keeping skills!? ) . But then, she has so many stuffies and Lotties! So of course she takes them lightly. Showing her a different reality from the one she has, without sounding like I am preaching, is a difficult balance, one that I am not always successful with. But last night, as I was sharing with her my own childhood memories, I could tell she was really listening to why it was important to me that she take care of her things.
And then today I did something I have not done in a long time – I played with Anji and her dolls. Mostly, I was an observer with occasionally supplying a dialogue or two. In the story she came up with, they went camping in the middle of the night – all the dolls woke each other up, and then they took their bikes to go camping and watch the stars. Listening to her playing was such a fun and delightful way to spend a hot afternoon!
I am reading Elizabeth Gilbert’s ‘Big Magic’, and it resonates with me that we are all fundamentally creative, it is ingrained inside us, and each of us are creative in different ways. And thinking about growing up with my dolls last night reminded me that it too was an outlet for creative expression. Just like seeing the beautiful Rangoli designs growing up in India, or henna designs at street corners by artisans who could fill your whole arm within minutes. Creativity has so many expressions and there is something so fun and enjoyable about experimenting with the magic that draws us towards it – whether it be trying your hand at a new genre of writing or taking up drawing lessons or trying new recipes in the kitchen… Whether it is redecorating the interiors of our home or putting together a bouquet of flowers, creativity demonstrates itself in little and big ways.
And by doing the things we love, we are better people to be around! I definitely agree with Gilbert on that sentiment. I love meditation because it makes me really happy to set aside some time for myself and witness my thoughts. And I am happier when I engage with my practice in new ways. It is the same with doing henna on my hands (and neighbors’ hands and Anjali’s feet sometimes when she will let me…).
Creativity is something that takes our lives from the mundane to the sublime. So I leave you today with one of my favorites from Rumi:
Today, like every other day, we wake up empty
and frighened. Don’t open the door to the study
and begin reading. Take down a musical instrument.
Let the beauty we love be what we do.
There are hundreds of ways to kneel and kiss the ground.Rumi (translated by Coleman Barks)
I would love to hear about how you kneel and kiss the ground…