I wasn’t quite sure what to expect yesterday when we started making talismen.
Talismen, by definition, are objects that bring some sort of good luck, and yesterday, as we continued to set intentions for the upcoming school year, one of our activities required us to make our own talisman out of found materials–materials such as straws, wine corks, plastic caps, and paper clips.
I was immediately skeptical of the activity, and felt the need to get back into my classroom so I could work on one of the many projects I had made for myself over the past couple of weeks. However, in the spirit of convenient work avoidance, I stayed and proceeded to the table where all of the found materials sat in compostable take-out containers, waiting to mixed and matched to create these yet-to-be-formed good luck charms.
I was admittedly a bit giggly as I began to create. I wasn’t taking it too seriously, which in hindsight, was probably a good thing. I wasn’t quite sure what my end goal was, and that proved to be a bit difficult for me. I generally like to create with a vision in mind. I like structure. But there was little to no structure to be found here. I was just supposed to create out of will, not out of purpose.
But I jumped in anyway.
I started with the wine corks because, well… I drink a lot of wine, and it just seemed appropriate. Plus, they’re, like, the best thing ever. My metaphorical mind immediately imagined some sort of polyhedral structure, made of beautifully interwoven geometric shapes–all made of wine corks and paper clips–representing my safety in structure. But I decided I didn’t want to do that. After all, this was meant to be a good luck charm–something to hold on to when you’re at the end of your rope, when there’s no choice but to tie the end of the rope and hang on for dear life. Plus, that sounded like a hell of a lot of work.
So I simply began to create. My eyes were drawn to the straws, and my hands followed, where I began to cut and tape a structure to wrap around my initial cork. Out of this cork-straw mechanism, I decided to build upward with additional flexible straws pointing in every direction. After that, I built downward, making a triangular structure on which my alien-like talisman could stand, and finally, to secure the two together, I found some bright orange tape, wrapped it carelessly around the meeting point between the base and straw structure. I looked down, and I had a talisman. I had my good luck charm.
But when it came time to share, I wasn’t sure what it would represent; I wasn’t sure what I would say. Others’ talismen represented serenity, focus, and happiness. And mine was… well… some super weird thing that I created supposedly “out of will.”
“Uh,” I uttered. “So…” and I began to try and rationalize what I had made.
“I suppose I’ve never really believed that everything happens for a reason, and that sometimes you get a bunch of crap placed in front of you and you’re forced to make something out of it. So that’s kind of what I did here. I made this really weird thing, and I’m not quite sure what it means. I mean, I suppose, sometimes, life is just… well… wine corks and green straws and orange tape…
“It doesn’t necessarily have to mean anything. Sometimes it just… is.”
And as those words came out of my mouth, I saw that I truly had created my talisman out of will–out of a need. It’s true that I’m not one to say everything happens for a reason, and I’ve adapted to this by allowing myself to invest reason into things retrospectively.
And so next time when I lose my grounding–when I lose the structure that I’ve laid before me–I’ll be able to hold on to my alien creation, and I’ll be able to remind myself that within crisis and within confusion lies comfort in embracing what we cannot control and accepting our realities as is–no matter how odd they may look.