Social Engagement & Activism > Meditations: A Collaborative Project

Paper Boat - A Meditation by April VanDeGrift
Paper Boat - A Meditation by April VanDeGrift
charcoal on paper

From April VanDeGrift:
"Scouring the landscape for mature white puffy seed heads of dandelions, my sister and I would carefully clip the stems with our fingernails and transport them back to our waiting mother. In an attempt to deliver them whole, we’d hold our breath and tiptoe through the grass. All at once, we three would blow the seeds loose from their perch and watch the dancing sails indicate the direction of the winds. Carefree and innocent, the dandelion will always signify that time in my life.

The experiences I’ve had with my own children has included long nature walks, sledding down hills, and folded paper airplanes, cranes, and boats. These memories will also include a pandemic, an online education, and isolation. My seven-year-old son’s recollections of his second-grade year will include few in person school days, wearing masks, no physical contact, fear of disease, and a longing for a day when he can play with friends. Due to my own nostalgic ideas about my second-grade year, I am sometimes sad about how his life does not mirror my own.

One day my son was asked to build a boat that held as many coins as possible for school. Together we built a platform of Legos and watched the coins sink to the bottom. We tried many times before turning to a paper boat. As he filled the boat with coins he squealed with delight and added more until the weight collapsed it from the center. He’s going to be ok.

Holding the charcoal beads in my hand as I drew a paper boat, I thought of his innocence, both retained and lost. The charcoal of the meditation beads marked the surface of the paper in unexpected and surprising ways. I thought of the seeds of a dandelion blowing in the wind and how I can’t control the direction they flow or where the seeds land. I thought about a paper boat floated in a stream and my inability to control where it lands or if it sinks. I thought about my children and how I must let go of my own expectations for them, their memories, or how their todays will shape their tomorrows."

Drawing and Photograph by April VanDeGrift

April VanDeGrift: