Meraki [may-rah-kee] This is a word that modern Greeks often use to describe doing something with soul, creativity, or love — when you put “something of yourself” into what you’re doing, whatever it may be.
I heart Rarasaur and Prompts for the Promptless, and this amazing Greek word meraki to the moon and back. To me it means being impassioned and intense, happy and enthusiastic, loving and giving, all wrapped up in one beautiful little meraki package.
In art meraki could be the colors you use, in writing perhaps it’s the words you choose. In photography it’s the subjects you see, and your unique point of view and the composition and what you do with tricks of the light to show us not just the picture, but something about the person who took it.
In cooking I imagine it’s the ingredients and the timing and the methods of putting everything together, and then the presentation and a bunch of other mysterious stuff that eludes me. But never doubt that I put LOVE in my unidentifiable concoctions.
At a very young age (too young to know any better) I thought I would like to one day become a great sculptor. Or at least dabble in pottery, because that wheel sure looked like some serious fun. The idea was born with an art project in school where we were each given a lump of clay and advised to make something of our own choosing. I painstakingly shaped mine into an ashtray. And not just any old ashtray – this had to be the best and most beautiful ashtray in the world, a present for my mother. Something just from me. Something she could love and cherish for ever and ever.
A lot of creativity went into my work, if you count smashing the stupid thing and reshaping it a million times trying to get everything symmetrically perfect. I molded my heart and soul into that stubborn little piece of clay. When I was satisfied at last with the results (and my fingers were about ready to fall off) I chose a shockingly brilliant electric blue for my glaze. After it was baked and cooled and admired by all (we were kids, what did we know?) I carefully wrapped my creation in tissue paper and carted it home.
I was so incredibly proud to present the fruits of my labor to my mother, who did not smoke. No one in our house smoked. We didn’t even know anyone who was thinking about taking up the habit. She professed to admire and love the ashtray anyway. We decided it would make a great conversation piece and she gave it a place of honor on the window sill above the kitchen sink. After awhile I got really tired of all the conversations about it starting off with “oh my goodness, what in the world is that?” But I never tired of hearing my mom explain how hard I had worked to make my very first piece of pottery. It was like she knew there was the equivalent of blood sweat and tears in that thing, never mind a little girls heart and soul full of love for her mother.
I don’t know what happened to it. And frankly I don’t care, it was butt ugly – even the artist herself came around to admitting that fact in time. But it didn’t stop me from continuing on in life creating things with love and good intentions. And my mother certainly taught me how important it was to appreciate whatever my own kids did from their hearts for me.
I never knew there was a word for putting yourself and a little piece of your very soul into whatever you create with passion and love, but I’ve certainly seen the evidence of it all around me. It’s everywhere I look.
The next little miracle I come across I will be able to describe with delight and just one small and perfect word - meraki.