Last evening we watched a unique theater performance: “Re:play”! I had had a very rough day and I walked in tired and curious. “Re:play” was promoted as a performance duet inspired by traditional Indian games. It was designed and directed by a young, creative genius, also known as a perfectionist in theater circles in India, Aruna Ganesh Ram. The show, which had stellar performances by two young artistes Supraja Narayanaswamy and Manav Chidambaram, celebrated several Indian traditional games – Pallankuzhi, Chaturanga, Pacheesi, Goli, Tossed Shells, Paramapadham, Aadu Puli Aatam (Baag Chaal) and Kabaddiamong many others! The show took our breath away – and totally refreshed and reenergized me!
Most impressive __ and awakening __ was the climax. The artistes decide to close the mythical Pandora’s Box which has been “open” for ages. So they invite the audience to surrender one emotion or trait in them that they would like to rid themselves of. Soon the Pallankuzhi wooden box goes around among the audience. Each member in the audience has to drop a tamarind seed into the box, metaphorically ridding herself or himself of a wasteful emotion or trait. So, someone drops anger, another drops wealth, a little girl drops sadness, someone drops jealousy, yet another drops poor health…and in some time, the box is full. Then the artistes close the box forever and toss it away.
Talking to Aruna after the show, I discovered that the final act was not a traditional Indian game. She had conceptualized this act as part of her show’s design to leave a message with the audience that it was time we all worked towards cleansing ourselves to make this world a better place. I reckon that’s a fantastic idea we can all implement too.
Why not set up a little jar or a wooden box or even a soup bowl on your desk at work or in a corner of your living room? Each time you experience a negative emotion, let’s say ‘fear’, write ‘fear’ on a small piece of paper, roll it up, and toss it into your own “Pandora’s Box” – be sure to trash its contents weekly or fortnightly or monthly! And every time fear raises its ugly head in your mind, think about ‘why’ it is recurring, go to its root, its cause, and remind yourself that you have already tossed it away. Over time, your ability to deal with your fears will improve dramatically. Because you are not brushing it aside. You are facing it, you are thinking about it constructively. You are taking simple, cognitive action. I did something similar during my ‘mouna’ (silence periods) sessions a few years ago. I wrote about my emotions, in notes to myself, in my journal. It helped me immensely. The “Pandora’s Box” ‘game’ is in the same league. And will surely work for all those who are not so comfortable with writing how they are feeling. Because the very act of thinking about a debilitating emotion or trait, and metaphorically tossing it away, is progressive. It opens up a dialogue within yourself – between you and what holds you hostage.
The key is to face whatever torments you firmly. Anger, fear, hatred, sorrow, jealousy, insecurity, inferiority, anxiety, worry – whatever. Look it in the eye. Do not wish it away. Understand it. Deeply. Your understanding will help you deal with it effectively and efficiently. And then, giving it all your attention and focus – mindfully – toss it away! Through repeatedly playing your “Pandora’s Box” ‘game’, you will discover that freeing yourself of all wasted emotions and traits has actually led to the flowering of internal awareness and inner peace. Now, if that’s the priceless prize you win playing a simple game – what more can you ask for?