Mandala Mind II
You cheated, didn’t you? But it doesn’t matter, right? It isn’t an art contest It is just a mandala on a wall in your house. So what if you printed one off the internet and cut those beautiful arabesque points out. So what that you traced the cutout over your center circles to create the first petals. It doesn’t mean anything. It was just a tool. An aid. Eight small points of your mandala. Nothing more.
But he’s calling you out after your initial session of drawing. He says it looks amazing, but he adds that it must be a stencil. Too good. Too good for it to be you alone. You flush with anger. Push back. He repeats that you must have copied from something. Does he mean the eight petals or something more? You tell him that you drew it. That it is your mandala design. The fills and flourishes are all your hand and mind, combining in a moment of inspiration. Then you feel shame. The eight petals. So you show him the eight petal stencil you created. He shakes his head, that wasn’t what he meant. He points to the spiral fill. He wants to know how you do that so evenly. You pick up the paint marker and fill a spot with spirals. They are far from perfect but he is duly impressed. You’ve been filling digital drawings full of spirals for two days; the movement has become rote to you. He repeats that it looks amazing and you are pleased too. For a minute. Then your mind fills with doubt. Still lots of time to f*ck up.
A few days later, you pick up where you left off. Fortunately, there is still established pattern to fill with spirals, dots and lines. You don’t have to worry yet. You don’t have to think. You lose yourself in the calm focus of the task at hand and you are shocked when two hours fly by. You feel content. You haven’t felt that in a while. So much uncertainty. So much anxiety. But in this moment, you feel optimistic. You feel capable of weathering this storm. You take a second to be thankful for that. Namaste. Time has felt like an enemy.
The next day, you enter the spirit room and assess. Where to go? How to build? Your mathematical mind tells you that a compass will be necessary. A big compass. You have something that could work in your studio, but you don’t want to go to your studio downtown. The thought makes your stomach tight. You want to stay home. In. Safe. You are confident that the student compass sitting on the work table will suffice for maybe one or two more petal builds. Although you love to shop, you table the search for the big compass to another day.
Where to go? The question lingers but it feels off, like you are searching for a destination. You think you might mean where to begin the next petal, but maybe you mean where to go for inspiration. You pick up your phone and scroll through the artists that you follow. Several do mandala art. One in particular pops into your mind. You find her posts and you are blown away as you always are by the precision and the detail. You don’t feel inspiration; you feel inadequate. You leave to fill your digital drawing with spirals. This isn’t working today.
But it calls. Mandala. Mandala. Mandala.
So, you save the digital drawing and head back to the room. It is almost like you are back to the beginning. So much fear to make the wrong mark. So you take a deep breath and draw a circle a few inches out from the last group of petals in pencil with the compass. You understand that the petals must interact evenly with that circle, on the established eight point axis. You can see now that tracing those eight petals was a bad start, an inaccurate way to establish the axis lines; but you’ll have to accept that. You are too far into this to paint over now. You also understand that to build the mandala, the petals will double to sixteen at some point.. The radial axis lines are so important. The early inaccuracy will burn you later.
You sketch a petal in pencil on the wall with a circle template. You hate it immediately. It isn't large enough and the vibe is wrong. Fortunately, it is pencil. You use what you just drew as a guide to the correct petal size. You immediately see how the smaller petal inside will create a lace cutout. By accident, you now have exactly what you want. Alleluia. You bow to the mandala and then lose yourself in building the pattern. Three hours fly by. Again, you feel calm. Peaceful.
The next day, the news has you feeling manic. You can’t stop the feeling that the pandemic is crashing around you. You breathe. You tell yourself that you are safe. But it feels temporary. You start to pace. You have to regain control, so you force yourself to go to your computer. You will work on your latest digital drawing of a bee. But you are distracted. You can’t see stop looking at the news or Facebook. Looking to the internet for comfort. You fool. Stop. Just stop.
And then you feel it. Mandala. Mandala. Mandala.
You head to the spirit room and begin another row of petals. The shape and size flow off your fingertips. Like it has been waiting. Like you belong here. You suddenly realize that the mandala is a destination. It is a sanctuary. A place of worship. You ease yourself in and take a seat in the church of one, every petal a prayer for this troubled world.