I remember, as a little girl, playing with my dad on my Etch-a-Sketch. We would turn the two little knobs to create pictures and then shake the red box with its little screen up and down and the drawings would disappear. The power to remove drawings I didn't like and clearing the screen to start over seemed magical. Not even a pencil eraser was as easy at setting the start point again so cleanly.
It was difficult to control the lines on that screen and I liked making my "mistakes" quickly disappear. However, when I finally turned the right and left knobs in just the right way to reveal something of which I was proud, it was difficult to make the decision to shake that box. I didn't want to lose that image, that moment, that experience of satisfaction...forever. With the Etch-a-Sketch, there was no way to make a copy of my creation. It would never be up on the refrigerator, put in a frame, set on my mom's dresser for all to enjoy. I would never see it again. Sometimes, when I was almost finished with my creation, a bump or move would start the disappearing process...no! no! no! Come back!
That was one of my first lessons about impermanence.
The same lesson was learned again and again at the edge of the Atlantic Ocean in Florida, Massachusetts and Maine. I would create a sandcastle, a moat, a wall to protect my princess fortress. The tide was far away and I thought my miniature land was safe...but always more quickly than I expected...the water would return and dismantle my majestic creation, leaving only a memory.
When my daughters were little, I learned of a group of Buddhist monks who were visiting greater Boston to share their skills and wisdom in meditation, chanting and the art of the mandala. We went and watched them meticulously create a sand mandala atop a low table, which measured six feel by six feet. It was mesmerizing to see them drop what seemed to be individual grains of sand to create the finest lines and most intricate shapes. The design was magnificent...detailed, beautiful, radiating the most incredible colors. They worked on it for an entire day. We were there when they finished. And minutes later, they blew the image away, scattering the grains in every direction. I could feel the little girl in me with the Etch-a-Sketch yelling, "No...why did you do that? That was so beautiful!"
But that was the point. Nothing is permanent. Enjoy the beauty while it's here. Take stock of every moment and breathe. The only thing you can count on is right...now.
As a young mother in my thirties, I quietly explained this idea to Molly and Eliza as they watched with disbelief that these monks would be so silly to destroy their hard work just moments after we'd had the chance to go and see it up close. Maybe someone else hadn't had the chance to actually go up to the table yet, Molly suggested. That's life.
When I created the first Infinity Angel on Footbridge Beach in Ogunquit, more than a decade ago on a crisp, sunny morning, I didn't think about the tide coming up and how quickly this little angel would disappear. You'd think I'd learn! This time, as the water rushed in however, I emblazoned her visage on my brain. I experienced the moment. And due to her simplicity and the message I heard inside my head, I was able to create her again and again, each time feeling more and more certain that she was supposed to help me and others with many lessons. One of the lessons is certainly the understanding of impermanence, as I can never draw her freehand the same way twice.
The Buddha Board: An Etch-a-Sketch for Grown-ups!
I first encountered a Buddha Board several years after I'd drawn my first Infinity Angel on the beach. It beckoned me to pick up the paint brush, dip it in the water and draw something on the papery surface. I tried my hand creating my little angel, not knowing exactly what a Buddha Board would offer. There she was, in a bold, painterly black brush stroke. I'd cocked her halo a little dramatically in this rendition and before I could step back and really take her in...she started to disappear. Aaah...of course, a Buddha Board would offer the mandala experience once again, what other type of art medium would be named for the man who said, "You only lose what you cling to"?
Drawing on the Buddha Board felt so much like drawing on the sand on Ogunquit Beach that I chuckled. As it stands on its easel, with the water well filled and the brush at the ready, you are beckoned to try your hand at something, anything. Create. Do it. Have fun. If what you create is less than perfect, it will fade away. And if it is the most magnificent piece of art you've ever imagined, it will fade away just as quickly. Everything is equal in impermanence. Our Buddha Boards offer quite a unique meditation experience.
So, while we offer you many ways on our website to physically hold onto your Infinity Angel, we thought it was fitting to also offer Buddha Boards...a wonderful gift to share with a friend who understands the value of the moment. Or perhaps for someone who needs to learn what that's all about. Place your Buddha Board on a coffee table, kitchen counter, or the corner of your desk to remind you and others to take a chance, let go and create.
If you're like me, you need to regularly remind yourself that all of life is like a mandala. The most precious things (and even people) are fleeting and, still, our most memorable moments will stay forever in our minds.
Enjoy this moment and thanks for reading,
Creator of The Infinity Angel