Wednesday, March 01, 2006

A lesson in impermanence

Are you one of those parents who patiently creates scrapbook after scrapbook of your child's artwork? Does it adorn relatives' refrigerators, or is it framed and on display in prominent locations in your home? Kyra is a prolific artist, but you will likely find most examples of her work peeking out from our recycle bin.

I know, I know--someday I will wish I had captured every moment: her first scribble, her first discernable shape, her first tree, her first representative picture (Just the other day she drew a tractor and hay baler in a field from her memory of a tractor book.), her first letters (Okay, even I have the first "mommy" ever written!), on and on it goes. The sheer volume of paper overwhelms me, though, and I'm trying to live life in a relatively clutter-free environment. Day after day Kyra returns from school with a pile of pictures and self-made crafts. After asking my customary questions, "What can you tell me about this? What do you like about this? What were you trying to do over here?" I pause, contemplating just how long the paper needs to stay on the table before I surreptitiously drop it in the big blue bin. Until bedtime....until the weekend....it all depends on the mood of the house!

It's not as though this is a secret we keep from Kyra. She knows this is where most of her pictures go, and we do together select a few that are particularly special or impressive to hang on an at-home bulletin board. (And even if we didn't tell her outright, I'd like to believe she is smart enough to figure out something has happened when the ten pictures she brings home have turned into one by morning!) I prefer to think of her works of art as the Zen buddhists' sand mandalas. If you've never seen or heard of a mandala, you can read more here. While I haven't seen the massive structures depicted on this particular webpage, I have had the pleasure of watching monks painstakingly create a sand mandala--days spent on their knees in meditative creation as they pinch, pour, and blow the sand into elaborate designs. When the mandala is completed, it is blessed, admired by the observing audience, and then swept away. Over and over and over the monks participate in this act of sacred creation and equally sacred destruction. Everything is impermanent. Everything will pass away. Everyone will pass away. Over and over and over this lesson is remembered and affirmed.

So perhaps my acts of recycling are just as sacred as Kyra's acts of creation....or maybe I'm just a tad on the heartless side! Regardless, if you want to receive a Kyra original, let me know. Shipping them off to relatives and friends feels a step above the immediate trip to the recycling bin. Good news--Lucas is an artist these days, too! More paper scribbles to come your way.

4 comments:

Allie D. said...

Jennifer- I can relate. I never realized the deluge of artwork that would come flooding into this house when Natalie started preschool. Some of it is 3-D art, which makes it all the more challenging to deal with. Ken's mom came up with a really cool idea to preserve the art while not having to deal with the clutter. She took pictures of the artwork and has the photos in a special book. I will likely start doing that eventually. Right now, I do what you do. Most of it doesn't stay around for long.

And yes, a great lesson not only in impermanence, but also non-attachment. Gosh, you have so much Buddhist in you. :)

Alan said...

Jennifer! I'm so glad you found my blog, and I'm glad you've got one of your own. I hope this will enable us to keep in touch a little better!

heather r said...

I can identify as my fridge is now adorned (covered, really) with artwork from Corley and Scott....Well, mostly Corley, but I'm sure Scott will get into the art-as-gifts groove soon. It includes a "purse" made from sheets of that craft-foam stuff - it's stiched with red ribbon (my favorite color) - and the strap is pink ribbon (corley's favorite color)! love it. Everytime I look for a place to put something new, i think about getting rid of something already there - but my heart won't let me throw it away. I keep everything. Of course, I'm not Mama, I'm Aunt Heather, it might be different if i was - i'm sure the amount of art increases exponentially when you're the Mama. ;-)

Kristen said...

We still haven't figured out a good system for deciding what to keep and what to throw away. And John is the throw it all away type, so I fear we have may be losing some things. I manage to sneak a few gems into a keepsake box, though. OH, and the deluge? It gets really bad when there are TWO in pre-school. Oy.