Sands of Time: A Reflection

Thursday, January 28th, 2016 was just one of Those Days

We all know Those Days. We’ve all had them.

We all know what it's like when the day takes a completely different turn and leaves you feeling like a powerless passenger instead of firmly planted in the driver’s seat. I was made quite familiar with the feeling on that particular Thursday- thanks to a series of (unfortunate) events: a laptop charger forgotten at home, multiple transit delays, some overambitious weather estimating (I thought it would actually be six degrees outside) a very ungraceful fall in Queen’s Park and to top it all off- an interview! which meant nerves nerves nerves.

I could go on and on and on about my not-so-delightful day but that would turn this post into a train headed for Rantville, so let me just say this:  it’s not always easy being a student. If I'm being real, it’s never quite smooth sailing and things falling into place just as we planned them. Appointments don’t always start when they’re supposed to, streetcars don’t always come when you expect them to; in fact, this post didn’t end up the way it was originally planned either. And it’s times like these that make the days seem like they're stretching on and on with nothing to look forward to.

Sometimes, more often than not, you have to find reasons to keep you going.

And sometimes, that reason can be something as simple as a change of perspective.

Allow me to elaborate...

Into my messy equation of chaos Thursday afternoon, came an interesting variable.

I was hiding away in the basement of Graham Library, sulking, feeling sorry for my(laptop-less)self and morosely scrolling through emails on my phone when I came across one from the Multi-Faith Centre about a ‘once-in-a-lifetime sand painting display’.

Interest piquéd. Mentally bribing myself with the promise of a snack from Veda, I dragged myself out of my dark little basement corner and headed towards the Centre.

The 'sand display' was in a little room on the third floor with a curtain draped across the doorway adorned with traditional symbols.


When I took my shoes off and stepped across that curtain in the Quiet Room in the middle of the busiest part of campus, I entered quite a different world.

A world of perfect symmetry, breathtaking precision, and bright, dazzling colour.


I was witnessing the making of a sand mandala.

Sand mandalas are part of an ancient Tibetan Buddhist tradition where monks painstakingly arrange millions of grains of coloured sand to produce stunning works of art. Each mandala is unique, often incorporating geometrical patterns and designs with meaningful religious and traditional symbols and takes days to create.


After the mandala is completed, it is destroyed in a matter of seconds in a dissolution ceremony to highlight the impermanent nature of life.



I was awe-struck by the dedication and concentration the monks displayed to their back-breaking task and the tiny, delicate movements that went into creating the patterns


-and then horrified to know that it was to be destroyed the next day.

But that made me realize something.

The creating of the mandala contains a powerful metaphor for life:

nothing lasts forever.

Time is the most precious commodity we have and it is so essential to lift our heads up every once in a while to take a look at the beautiful bigger picture we are creating for fear of losing sight of it forever.

I left the Multi-Faith Centre on Thursday with renewed respect and appreciation for the wonderful different ways in which people express themselves and a newfound resolve to bring more positive energy into my day-to-day life.

My time there also reminded me that there is nothing I enjoy more than learning from different cultures and perspectives. It’s why I chose U of T and Toronto- I love meeting people from different backgrounds with different stories to tell and leaving an interaction having taken away something meaningful from the experience.

And that is what brings me #JoyatUofT.

What brings you joy at U of T? Let us know in the comments below or on Twitter at Life @ U of T!

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