I woke up from a dream in which I was a sand mandala. The sand painting was finished; the grains of sand were being swept back into the earth, carried on the wind. I woke up taking a conscious breath in and out, then a big breath in and out. I looked at the sky: a beautiful blue with just a few small cloud puffs over the Catalinas.
I thought yesterday about an art happening that evolved a few years ago down in the rillito. One day in February, I began to move stones and boulders to create a rock garden on the expanse of dry river sand. I scavenged pieces of drift wood and twigs and iron rebar to make Japanese gates called torii (等り). Yuki hung out down there with me as I played.
Everyday, I spent my mornings moving rocks and creating new formations in the garden before going to teach pottery. Each day, I brought pieces of my hand made pottery to the garden, little offerings. In the evening, Yuki and I would again walk to the rillito. People from the neighborhood began to congregrate there, sunset walkers mostly, many with their dogs. Everyday, I found surprises in the garden: rounded spiral rock paths had been carefully placed, shiny stones were laid out in a pattern, glassy beads and small tin bells appeared hanging from one of the torii gates, a miniature shrine had been created beside a large boulder. Some items seemed to have disappeared only to appear in another spot, and some items found new, temporary homes with an admirer/visitor to the garden. The garden was no longer "mine".
There were no rules, yet everything that was placed was a natural found object from within the rillito; no one used plastic (with the exception of my pottery pieces, the seven-inch kami--paper--streamers I sewed around the torii, and some jute). People continued to visit, making the rillito rock garden a destination to walk to and a place to play and create with their whole bodies. It was never crowded, though, and always felt peaceful and playful. My idea was to work/play down there until the monsoons came and washed it all away. What happened was a little different.
One day at the end of May, I walked down there to find the rillito rock garden had been torn apart, vandalized. At first, I felt disappointed that I was not going to see everything float away and would not see moist, grainy river sand the next day where the garden had been. And, I imagined the energy of the ones who broke everything. Then, I let go of thinking. I could not control a perfect 'flowing' outcome. The end came differently then expected. Actually, so did the middle. I set out to move stones, to move my body, and to play at something that delights me (building things). I never expected that a community would come to meet it and that it would playfully engage many individuals.