When you told me the other day that you had stashed small give-away containers of Play-Doh in your Little Neighborhood Free Library, I knew that all would eventually be right with the world. I know this because Play-Doh, that malleable blob of vibrant color from my childhood, always gave me permission to empty my mind and make something surprisingly uncomplicated, personal and creative.
Do the recipients of your gift emit a cry of victory when finally prying off the snug-fitting lid? Does the Doh still bounce slightly when it falls from container to the table top? Does that first whiff assault your senses and sear a memory in your mind forever? Does absent-minded pushing and pressing without a plan suddenly reveal an unforetold creation?
As a child, I loved Play-Doh because I didn’t need to have a plan. Something would always emerge if I let it. In a young life full of rules and expectations, that made a difference. Unconsciously, I would empty my mind when I emptied the Play Doh container. My mind on Play-Doh went blank like I was gazing out of a car window on an endless family drive. With a one-handed squish, I knew, with total certainty that my ideas would emerge.
It’s no surprise that Play-Doh (or an occasional homemade imposter) became a fixture in my home when my own kids were young. Squeals of delight filled the room when, as a teacher, I doled out canisters of Play-Doh; an invitation to wipe the slate clean and stop planning and thinking if only for a moment during a demanding school day.
And now, dear Pamela, knowing that you fill your community library with little canisters of Play-Doh, I experience pure joy. What could be better during a pandemic and a time of national reckoning? Right now, kids and adults alike need permission to clear their minds, wipe the slate clean and create something beautiful and new. Play-Doh could help.