Nut Order, Rug Labyrinth, and Pull the Light
Updated: Jun 16, 2021
I was blessed to grow up with many cousins, from both sides. Most of my cousins are either much older than me or few years younger. There were few that were a year or two older than me who; naturally, fancied about hanging out with the older group. So, as a pre-teen, I would play with my much younger cousins. However, there were times where I preferred being alone than playing with Barbies or childlike games, so I spent a good amount of time alone during these family gatherings.
As a girl raised in a traditional country and family, who lived in the center of Tehran, I could not go play outside. Center of Tehran was more of a commercial than residential area and my parents chose to live there to be near our school, so we don’t have to ride the school bus. Outside of school, I had one best friend who was my age, and our parents were best friends too. We spent our summer vacations by the Caspian Sea together and hung out only when families got together. We are now relatives, as he married one of my cousins. Rest assured that in this note, I am not going to share my sob story of my teen years as an immigrant.
So, often times, at family parties, as a pre-teen, I had to learn to play alone. Keep in mind, back then, we did not have smart phones, video games, nor unlimited shows to watch on television. Hence, we had to be creative and come up with ways to entertain ourselves. In this note, I will share three of these solo games. In hindsight, one of these solo games was a form of meditation and the other two had serious life lessons.
Nut Order Game
It is important to point out that when I was a kid, every household in our family had some kind of mixed dried nut served during gatherings. The dish that held these mixed nuts, usually had a matching wooden spoon, painted in beautiful colors. It was customary for the host or my mom to give kids one or two scoops of these mixed nuts to eat and keep busy. Instead of eating them all at once, I would examine them, put them in the order of their size, smallest to the largest piece. This would keep me busy for a good half hour. Then the eating process would start. From smallest to the largest piece. Cashews were my favorite and were usually at the end of the rank. So, the anticipation to eat them, made this game so joyful!
Labyrinth Rug Game
After keeping busy with the nuts for a good hour, I had enough energy to start the labyrinth rug game. It is also imperative to mention, that every household in our family, had a red Persian rug. Persian rugs normally have an edge that goes around the rug which I imagined was a creek. The center of the rug usually had a mandala. Mandala, according to the new world encyclopedia, in Sanskrit means “circle” and in Hindu and Buddhist traditions is a symbolic diagram used for sacred rites and as an instrument of meditation. I would start off on the Mandala and had to find my way to the edge of the rug, without stepping on a pre-determined shape. So, based on which rug I was playing on, I had to decide what pattern I cannot step on (I would call that pattern the Death Valley, because if I stepped on that pattern, I would lose the game and had to start from the middle again).
Ironically, recently a dear cousin of mine, told me about mandalas and how she is learning about them. This note was inspired by that conversation. She said that Mandalas basically represent the universe and are considered a holy place that serves as a vessel for the gods and as a collection point of universal forces. So, mandalas can be considered our center. And as a kid, I wanted to leave my center and find my way to the edge so I can watch it from my outer self or the illusionary world.
Ironically in India and other far east countries, people use colorful powdered chalks to make beautiful mandala images on the floor and when wind blows it away, they are reminded of the impermanence of life and the importance of remaining in the center.
Going back to my childhood’s solo games; after finding my way out of my center to the outer edge of every rug in our host’s house, the last game I recall that kept me out of trouble for hours was the pull the light game.
Pull the Light Game
This game was more of an end of the day, tired to the max game. It would normally happen after I had played with some cousins and sometime the older kids who would call me to carry out a chore for them. Once the service was rendered, I was told to leave them alone and it would make my night just to serve them. "Pull the light" game would follow. It was a more like meditation. So, I would just lay on one of the red Persian rugs under a ceiling light or chandelier. I would then almost close my eye and focus on the blurry rays that leave the light bulbs. Then I would use my arms to pull the rays towards me. Imagine a 10–12-year-old lying flat on her back and using her hands pulling the light to herself in the middle of an empty room. Sometimes I would even speak and say: “Come to me light, come to me…”
What a sight that must have been! :)
In retrospect, these games may sound odd, and you may think I must have been an awkward kid. But you should try them. They are so relaxing and I must add how fascinated I was with my uncle's military sword, We were not allowed to touch it, that is why creating rays that looked very much like swords with my eyes was so much fun. The various sizes and their dance as I controlled the openings of my eyes, created a beautiful kaleidoscope which made it even more mesmerizing. I usually ended up falling asleep there.
I am certain these games have given me the tools and insight to become who I am today. For instance, I like to remain centered, I don’t see the need to skip the death valleys, as valleys are all part of this beautiful rug, called life. I like the fact that I do the exact opposite of the nut order game, as I am NOT saving the best for last, and use/eat the good stuff first. (Sorry friends, I don't have guest china, just daily ones) I also continue inviting light towards me. Light to me is knowledge, insight, and wonderful relationships with self-aware human beings.
Though, my childhood, pre-teen, and teen years were somewhat lonely outside of school, I feel blessed to have the time I had with myself. Little Roxy was fun and creative, she was jubilant and obedient. Most importantly, she knew how to make herself happy. I am grateful to everyone who allowed me the time to self-discovery!