Life in a Sandbox

Ever play in the sand? Sure you have, admit it! We all have, even if we won’t admit it.

Unlike Seth Godin who posts his blog entries every day, I don’t. Today, however, I felt compelled to do something special.

My journey has taken me in various directions these past few years and, frankly, I’m still not sure where the hell I’ll end up. Life is painful and hope is elusive. My wife Pam and I have had many conversation about our collective travails. I’ve shared some of those times here in these blog posts and I’ll try and share more.

I know I want more out of life than just wondering what comes next. There’s got to be some joy in there somewhere. We need it to survive . . . and live . . . and prosper.

Recently, I attended a weekend conference on imagination at The Jung Center in Houston. You can read about my experience in the ideasnmoreblog post, my other blog for creative endeavors.

One of the exercises we did that weekend involved playing in the sand. We were exploring what hidden treasures await us that can be accessed through our imagination. Led by Michele Lees, this Playing in the Imagination session involved using a sandtray and symbolic figures (I called them toys).

This was one of those workshops that you could not be in a hurry or on a tight schedule; you’d do yourself a disservice.

After all, it’s “become one-with-the-sand time.”

But, it’s more than just playing in the sand. Sure, we spent some time running our fingers through the sand and spreading it all over the sandtrap, er, sandtray (I’m a golfer; I know traps!).

We even discovered the bottom of the tray was a light blue (think water as in the Atlantic, not the Gulf of Mexico). This would come in handy when we eventually made lakes and streams on our soon-to-become-imagination (fantasy?)-island.

Once we selected out toys, er, symbols as Michele calls them, we began the process of placing them in and around the sand. This was an odd feeling because it felt more often than not, like the toys knew exactly where they wanted me to place them – just like they seemed to call out to me to select them.

Once I completed my newly landscaped island, I took some photos and then wrote what I was feeling at the time.

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The phrase “two sides to every story” was uttered and, thusly, entered my mind. I then thought, “there are most likely more than two sides.” A different perspective, I thought, was also on display. Soooooo, . . . I snapped another photo from a different angle.

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Then as I gazed onto my island, the sandtray began to convey what I was feeling. I know, I know, that just sounds weird. Well, hells bells, we are exploring imagination, ya know. It can get weird.

This is what I began to write before time expired and we moved on.

I’m a reflection of your mind and memories, feelings, opinions expressed. These items called out to you, kind of like Snoopy falling into your arms (that’s another story). The Christmas Tree is a center of a preferred peaceful universe – you want that again – treasures under the tree, but near water. And my boat, half-beached, may be symbolic of your not having had a boat for a long time now. Crayons are still part of your landscape, even a fallen crayon at the foot of the Eiffel Tower (leaning, sad, in mourning). “Voodoo” doll nears a Halloween-like tree but is also next to Eiffel Tower (terror/evil still lurks). The owl seems pensive in his “looking up”at tree. Lighthouse, ever faithful, keeps watch over the landscape. Court jester is at rest and is comfy with his Kaluha bottle and crayon – he doesn’t need lantern at present so it rests by his side. The sleigh resting in Christmas Tree branches is just like what you did in your front yard holiday display.

Upon further reflection, I thought “I’m missing a small golf club, sand wedge, no doubt, and, maybe, a regular size golf ball. This is a sand trap, after all.”

What does all this mean? I’m not sure. I felt several emotions run through me during “construction” of my island and afterwards. I felt relaxed, sorrowful, sad, wishful, expectant, curious, somewhat satisfied – glad I had done it, and captured it on “film.” Other participants in my group got very emotional (angry) about some of their “toys.”

Perhaps some of you will want to try out this exercise if you have not already played with it before. It’s worth it. Contact the Jung Center for more info.

As for me, writing this blog post is a form of therapy. Among other things, I’m a writer, this is what I do. I also like to help people, to share experiences that may also impact their lives. Amidst all my questions about my life and its challenges and frustrations, sometimes the only nurturing outlet, aside from prayer, is my writing. And participating in weekend conferences like this one.

Lemme know what you think of this exercise and any experiences you’ve had.

Now, back to the sandtrap, er, sandtray. Sheesch!

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