MY FAVORITE THING about the compassion mandala created this week at the Menil from grains of colored sand by a band of Buddhist monks to honor the legacy of Gandhi was not the sound their silver scoops made when they scraped them together, coaxing out small streams of sand. It wasn’t the way they curled their bodies into balls — legs crossed, backs bent — to position their scoops with precision as they hovered over their co-creation, upside-down Michelangelos, adding sand from an aerial perspective. It wasn’t the exactitude of their linework. It wasn’t the finishing touch, white sand sprinkled like sugar over a patch of baby blue waves in one corner of their cosmic diagram. And it wasn’t the moment the robed monk stood and, having frosted the blue waves white, snapped a photo of the mandala with his smartphone, and we knew it was finally complete.
THE MAIN BUBBLE is the largest and most salient feature of a thought bubble. Round, usually horizontally elongated, and with a fluffy perimeter more often than not, it frames the content of the thought. It’s where the cartoonist is directing your attention.
IT'S TRUE THAT HEADS contain brains, but the idea that brains or heads can be said to wholly contain thoughts amounts to a kind of myth. The brain isn’t a central command center out from which thoughts emanate like bubbles. The body isn’t an inert vessel whose sole purpose is to house and nourish the brain as it walks it from location to location.
YOU HEAR A LOT about mindfulness these days. You hear less about awareness, the sister of mindfulness. They’re two sides of the same coin really. Just as the mind can be sharpened into focus — this is mindfulness — the mind can also be fuzzed out and panoramic — this is awareness. Zoom in to a pinpoint — mindfulness. Zoom out to take in the open space all around you — awareness.
IN ELEMENTARY SCHOOL I played the Big Bad Wolf in a French version of The Three Little Pigs. I was so committed to the role that I didn't just pretend to huff and puff, I actually huffed and puffed. I blew with all my might.