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Dance with Sand

A prompt to encourage your practice of creativity this week from Riversider and local author Larry Burns.

Do you need a low stress way to include seven minutes of creative contemplation into your week? Consider this your helpful nudge towards a slightly more creative life. If it helps, come back every week for a quick hit of creative contemplation. Each week I’ll share a new nudge. It will include a Thing (T), a Place (P), and a Sense(S) for your focus, a TPS creative nudge.

Happy Father’s Day and welcome to another week of creative exploration! Did last week’s sun salutations channel energy into creative projects? Perhaps it just felt good to notice the close comfort of a sunny day or the cool relief found in the shadows.

As summer threatens to break free of June’s gloom, let’s turn our attention to sand, another free resource we have in abundance across the Inland Empire. Sand is used in most building processes and while we are warned not to build our houses on sand, we couldn’t build a house today without it.

Less concrete but relevant for today’s creative nudge is the use of “sand” as slang for “courage”. Creativity (and fatherhood) takes courage, so let’s delve into the world of sand, where creativity intertwines with the fleeting nature of our existence.

Ready to play around with this week’s nudge? Playing around with sand is a practice that invites us to embrace the ephemeral and temporary. As we etch our designs grain by grain, we are reminded of the impermanence of what we create. Whether we love the final product or not, it won’t be around for long.

Now, find a patch of land where sand (or sandy soil) is abundant. This could be the Santa Ana River, a playground sandbox, or even a tray of sand brought indoors. Take a moment to connect all your senses with the sand. Notice the temperature, the colors. Listen to the gentle sound it makes as you push it around. Go as immersive as you dare- grit those teeth – allow your senses  to lead you. Banish ideas about perfection; revel in the process and the joy of creation.

Next, consider the following activities to deepen your exploration of impermanence and creativity:

  1. Contemplative Creations: Create intricate sand mandalas or geometric patterns. Embrace the meditative quality of this practice, knowing that your effort will soon be reclaimed by the elements.
  2. Collaborative Sand Sculptures: Invite others to join you in the creation of a larger sand sculpture. Witness the collaborative process and appreciate the combined efforts as you build something together, today.
  3. Time-Lapse Photography: Set up your smartphone to capture the evolution of your sand creations over time. Create a series of photographs that document the transient nature of your art, allowing you to reflect on the beauty of impermanence.
  4. Sand Storytelling: Use your sand drawings as a backdrop for storytelling and craft narratives that reflect the transient nature of our lives and the importance of cherishing the present moment.

As you immerse yourself in this multi-sensory experience, take a moment to reflect on the deeper meaning of impermanence and how it shapes you. Observe how your sand drawings evolve and eventually succumb to the forces of nature. Recognize the lessons it offers—the reminder to appreciate the present, think less about results and embrace our inherent beautiful selves.

Note: portions of this prompt created using the tool ChatGPT.