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Monday, August 3, 2009

Beach Lessons - #3 – The Creative & Therapeutic Benefits of the Drip Sand Castle

My preferred method for building sand castles is the “drip” technique. You don’t need special molds, buckets or even a shovel. A glorious drip castle can be created using nothing but ocean water, sand and your hands. (thick brownish sand of Texas beaches is ideal –beautiful sugary sands of Florida – not so much)

If you sit right at the water’s edge, you don’t even need a bucket to hold the water. Just dig a little hole in the sand with your hands and let the incoming tide fill ‘er up. Then scoop out handfuls of soft, mushy sand and let it drip slowly out of your hands onto the beach. As you do this again and again, forms begin to take shape that look a bit like termite mounds or reverse stalagmites.

I love the free form way the structures evolve. I love the tactile experience – the way the sand feels as it oozes out of my hand - soft, squishy and warm. (I often give myself a little spa-like foot mud-scrub while I’m at it.) I love the process as much as the end result – which is one reason I find it to be such a satisfying creative endeavor. And, as a bonus - it’s supremely relaxing – therapeutic even.

Sand castles are not meant to last forever. I think their impermanence only adds to their unique magic. Like a sacred mandala, carefully crafted by Buddhist monks in ritualized ceremony, sand castles are meant to be enjoyed during their creation and by onlookers, and then lovingly offered back to the sea by the wind and the waves. (Once the Buddhist mandalas, with their intricate designs of brightly colored sand, are complete – they’re blessed, desecrated and usually released into a body of water to further spread the blessings.)

During my most recent trip to the beach, there were some major, architectural sand sculptures up and down the shore. Enormous castles complete with moats, turrets, bridges and flags. The coolest one was a life-size speedboat complete with bench seats large enough for four adults to sit in.

Mine, however, was more along the lines of the free-form structure that Richard Dreyfuss created over and over again in the movie “Close Encounters of the Third Kind”. I think I remember him using dirt, paper and even mashed potatoes to build it. He had no idea what he was building – but he was inexplicably compelled to do so. Me too!

Drip sand castles are a nice reminder that there are times when process trumps end product, free-form trumps structure, and messy beats tidy and neat! (check out this “Wreck This Journal” post by Pink Heels for another great example of this)

What can you do today to play with a creative process, make a bit of a mess and just have fun with it? I’d love for you to share your creative/therapeutic ideas with me!


Pink Heels said...

Don't laugh but when I saw the picture of the drip castle, I instantly thought of frozen Coke. Seriously, doesn't it resemble it?

(creativeoasiscoach) said...

You're right - it does! Do you know they have "fried coke" at the Texas State Fair? I swear - they will fry anything that's not tied down! (twinkies, pickles, oreos, yuck!)