August 10, 2017. A day before Mountains Day, a national holiday only a few years old, I hopped on my little scarred Honda and headed out roughly towards west. Compelled by the briefness of summer, I wanted to absorb the scorching of the season as much as humanly possible.
Soon after somehow I took the turn I did not plan. General direction is right I said, my motto for a game I call “intentionally getting lost”. Just so long as I won’t miss out on the precious August sun for too long.
Well the path rode into the forest and quickly narrowed, to a single lane just wide enough for my compact. Winding as a large serpent would, on and on through the thick of woods that blocked even the brightest of the light. “Always a screw up, destined to miss.” An inner dialogue took the passenger’s seat like an inseparable old friend and worse yet at each hairpin, I grew deeper in agreement with her.
Then quite suddenly the serpent spat me out, into the bursting of the summer where I found a community probably the smallest I’ve ever seen. Tacked away in a valley between mountains are just a handful of housing structures, only some inhabited, lives held together with artful display of faded woods and rusted tins. Face to face with the unfolding quiet gem, with midday asphalt beneath my feet, I found myself alone in a place where leaves can be heard, streams carry life, the sun warms your shoulders and butterflies are free.
Evidently, I do this a lot. The “operation guerrilla cafe” (OGC hereafter). That is, to bring my beverage to the location of the day, of my choice. Strictly solo.
Why, join me, come along for a virtual tour of Cafe Solitude.
(Beneath each photo is the time photographed / social post details.)
2019.07.31 at 18:55 / VSCO on 2020.04.19. The color of sunset was actually that pink.
2017.10.03 at 15:27 / VSCO on 2017.10.03.
2017.11.11 at 12:16 / VSCO on 2017.11.11.
2017.11.05 at 15:06 / VSCO on 2022.12.06.
2018.07.13 at 19:14 / IG story fall 2022.
Many had asked, “why so solo, lonely lady?” Well, let me tell you you inquisitive lot. These are one of the most un-lonely times I’ve ever spent in my life. Ever felt “lonely in a crowd”? On the wrong planet?? Imagine the absolute opposite.
(In facto, the question always made me a little sad; if being alone with yourself means “lonely”…)
During OGC what’s being set aside is “society”. Sitting by the Water, I am in direct contact with the Big Container. Look.
Conception sometime in Oct.-Nov.2022, drawn/photographed on 2022.12.27 / first time posting.
By mid 1990’s, I was at it for several years, digging up piles of debris that were burying alive the creativity I may or may not possess. Operating on blind faith, what guided me was the utter sense of suffocation.
Around that time someone suggested me a work book for (blocked) creatives called “The Artist’s Way”. Although I didn’t quite click with the writing style nor its cult-like status in the city of industry I resided in at that time, with the core concepts I did, so gave a diligent try through early 2000’s.
One of the exercises in the book is called “artist’s date”, as in, you take yourself out on a date, solo. No one gets to come along.
The practice was a familiar one. Since I was a young child I wandered the streets of suburban Tokyo, to be alone with wonder-full and awe-some, and I found them in little patches of untended lands between buildings. But too many others around me framed my such inclination as anti-collective hence negative. I was somehow, instinctively doing the right thing, to cultivate my creativity, to water the seed that was trying to sprout. The suggestion in the book was a validation arrived a little later, that told me I was not the only one. Not “anti-social” but “pro-creativity”- what I always knew in my heart, but doubt snuck in and stole my clarity.
By around 2006, the suffocation subsided. As of late 2022, I no longer care to know how I am doing as a “creative”. One thing I can say for certain: I did all this simply because I could not not to.
The book has a ton of very helpful quotes, and out of the ton the following stuck with me through my trying times, trying – to reclaim my creative freedom.
One does not discover new lands without consenting to lose sight of the shore for a very long time.
– Andre Gide (The Artist’s Way, p.199 Week12. Recovering A Sense Of Faith)
(Jizou: a Buddhist rock statue, its humble presence usually found on roadside, in a corner of a temple, as a requiem for departed, an aid for suffering.)
Best jizous I’ve ever seen live in my neighborhood. Their stone-made presence weighs of the spirit. I sit and ponder on their shrine’s faded wooden verandah. So lucky, ain’t I. Then I glance over, their expression exudes. Surely honey, indeed, and that is quite so with everybody. Lucky, everyone, in ways no one else can know.
Carved, most probably by a monk on pilgrimage, he won it within himself, to let it speak through the simplest of lines. You ought to know simple is hard, creativity brutal, what you got inside, turns up regardless. That’s quite alright they say, they are the best jizous I’ve ever seen.
Red of the lilies around them somehow look the deepest. Someone who knew, once stood here. I think of the monk, the time he lived long since past, chiseling in bold, determined strikes, what he conveyed a timeless truth. Walking back to my car I find, in a bouquet of my favorite lilies, a glimpse of my own lucky bouncing in my arms.
All photos were taken on last Sunday of September 2016, at a location, best remain undisclosed, where I regularly raise a cup to our individual luckies.
Cookie is a mini data file my web server sends you and stored in your browser to help me serve you better.
Strictly Necessary Cookies
Strictly Necessary Cookies are best be enabled at all times so, for instance, my site can remember your preferences for cookie settings.
If you disable this cookie, again for example, your cookie preferences be gone when you leave, meaning upon your return we start over from scratch.
3rd Party Cookies
This website used to use an analytic service Stat Counter, translation service GTranslate which pulls Google Translate function, and a shopping cart service Gumroad.
To turn them all off, you can either
1. click “REJECT ALL COOKIES” on the pop up banner
2. leave the cookie button on the right disabled, or
Please enable Strictly Necessary Cookies first so that we can save your preferences!