I watch the Tibetan monks drape themselves around the sand mandala, tapping the long metal funnels with the patience and cadence of a balanced life. They spend a couple of days there on the floor of a local bookstore, creating a design with intricate lines of multicolored sand, confident in their skill and belief. And when it is done, when the mandala reaches what many might think is the pinnacle of its beauty…
…the monks sweep it away. And it is gone.
The destruction of the mandala is meant to symbolize the transient nature and impermanence of life. No matter how much effort goes into it, the fruits of our lives will eventually be brushed away into nothingness. And that fact is the most beautiful thing about it.
I have no idea how long my painting momentum will last. I have no idea how long my paintings will last. I have no idea how long I will last.
However, I do know what it is like to be me at this very moment. It’s like being a mandala in progress. I know there will be a time when this process is completed and then I’ll be swept away. I will be done then I will be gone. Beautiful.
My family knows I wish to be cremated when I die and thrown to the wind. I don’t want to take up any space other than in the memories of those I leave behind. I don’t want any trappings of a pretended immortality — no plaque, no stone, no urn on the mantle — just the world the way it should be without me. Hopefully for the better at having put up with me.
Many of us want to leave a mark, like a flag on the moon or graffiti on a train car, to prove we were here. And that is our error. We spend so much energy worrying about being forgotten that we forget to do anything memorable. A tombstone is useless if it’s not preceded by an engaged life.
This is it, folks. Regardless of what our beliefs are, this is our only chance to be us in this life at this moment. And when this moment is done, it is swept away.
The design of the moment is totally up to you.