Sand mandalas are a Tibetan Buddhist tradition which involves creating a mandala out of coloured sand. After hours of meticulous work, the mandala is ceremoniously dismantled. Gone.
The first time I heard of this artform, my immediate reaction was, “What a waste!” It seems a shame to create something so intricate and beautiful just to destroy it.
Often our first reaction to beauty is a desire to preserve it. We snap the photo (post it to Instagram), buy the t-shirt, record the memory. It’s as though we’re uncomfortable with letting a moment of beauty be just a moment.
But it’s scarcity that makes art the most valuable. The limited-time offer captures more attention than art that’s always there, as every sunrise suggests.
This is precisely what makes a great concert or a moving speech so beautiful. Ten thousand words worth of meaning can be packed into a single crowd-supported chorus. One well-told story can bring clarity to all of life, if only for a moment.
Artists create temporary works with hopes that their notes will echo in eternity.