Zen and the Art of getting comfy for a sec, even if in the eye of the raging storm.
Life is difficult.
– M Scott Peck “The Road Less Traveled”
To steal a moment, to snuggle up comfy in the eye of the storm*, I must not deny that there is a storm.
Paradoxically, I found it true, I escape by not running.
What if then, the storm so severe you almost have to look away, at least partially?
I found it effective then, to not deny my such denial.
To get comfy, as in, tranquil. I found it necessary that I not battle with the reality of my day.
Stolen moments like that, open up a channel where Inspiration flows, giving life a meaning, regardless, despite.
“Needless to say but on internet, playing safe is preferable: This is an analogy. In case of an actual storm, escape to a safe place first.
Photos from top (photographed date month year @ hour:minute:second):
A Water Bird (08Feb18 time recorded inaccurate)
Cafe Footprints (31Dec23 @ 15:43:30)
Dra Gondola (15Jan24 @ 15:55:55)
A Perfect Cloud (01Jan24 @ 16:24:32)
Cafe Perfect (01Jan24 @ 16:21:10)
The print “Dra Gondola” was inspired by a story I read as a child “Tears in the Dragon’s Eyes” (Hirosuke Hamada, 1941, the title translated literally by myself).
Wishing you a year filled with countless Pink Cloud Moments, rain or shine.
Basically I am swimming in a translucent sculpture of ever-shifting Perfection.
I realized I am painting waves!!*
…and guess what? Shells are, too!!!
Present is the present with no strings attached.
Ocean humbles me but humility sets me free.**
All images were photographed in August 2023.
*The artwork in progress (photo 4, 5, 7 from top) is an abstract interpretation of a flower petal. How so in one post from 2019.11.27: Process is the Destination!!
**Please allow me to specify what I mean by “humility” here.
I am not coming from stereo-typical Japanese “politely lowering oneself is a virtue” presentation (as in, nationalism-based virtue signaling, say). This is an art website and I work within myself to write as a creative.
Ocean is bigger than me. My silly pride as a skilled, long time swimmer had gotten shattered numerous times against the sheer force of the Ocean. Surprisingly though, such surrendering to Majestic did not defeat me but has been having the opposite effect on me: it permits me to release the dynamic/energetic/unapologetic side of me. As if the Ocean itself tempts me to become more. “Be more. You won’t scare me away.”
I wrote about one of the times when I got my ass handed: 2020.12.30 – New Moon in Virgo (An inflatable buoy tied to my waist since.)
12Sep23 – added the “**” paragraph about humility.
14Sep23 – minor corrections.
27Sep23 – minor addition.
Ume = Japanese Apricot / Plum. Pictured in photo #1 and #3.
“Demure, delicate, their fragrance so faint, their buds mature during the coldest time of the year, petals push open against late winter chill.
Soft yet Strong, they flower to signal the end of the Winter, and quietly retreat as Spring triumphs and flourishes in magnificent varieties of shapes and shades.”
The middle photo is a casual iPhone snap of the piece “Spider Lily Red – Flare 2” I’ve been working on, taken on February 28, 2023 at 16:29. Turned it into monochrome and part soft/off-focused to simulate a hand-held blur using Lightroom phone app, then applied vsco A5 filter, then, taken into Photoshop on computer and layered with a ocean/gull pic and the scribbles I’ve been using for sometime. In short, over processed some. It’s an experiment.
What I think is so wonderful about subtlety is that, it brings out a hunter, a seeker in a person, the opposite of things that explain themselves so loud they put you in a position of a mere consumer. If creativity is about connecting dots in new ways, it then naturally asks you to be the initiator.
Initiate, but not overbear. Intend, yet keep it open-ended. Candid, without making it all about me. I think about all this while remembering the fortunate times when I found myself encased in an elegantly subtle Ume scent cloud*.
“Do you notice how people hurt each other nowadays?”
the river knows
It was meant for me.
Monkey wrenches flying across a rocky slope substitute made of stained concrete while all I’m saying is:
let’s get out of the zoo.
“Who say everything’s been said.”
Text at the top in “”:
Ray Bradbury “Fahrenheit 451”
Haiku in decorative italic: Series “messing with other people’s poems”. Deconstructed this time, Nick Drake “River Man”.
Text at the bottom in “”:
Nick Drake “Things behind the sun”
Drawing / painting are by me, the cup, the spoon, the rug, hat, vase and the gadget are store-bought, all the magnificent rest (including my toes) by The Ultimate Artist.
Yes my toes are magnificent, so are yours. Own it.
The second from top photo taken with a vintage iPhone 3GS, no edits.
The rest of the pictures are minimally edited to match the look of the above-mentioned.
The artwork in photos are all part of a two-piece series called “Spider Lily Red – Flare” I have been working on since autumn of 2012.
Took time to develop the style, as I aimed at doing something I haven’t seen anyone do before, that is authentically my own. 9 years on I no longer know what I am doing, I hear that is actually a very good sign that you/r art is getting somewhere.
Moments lived once, from top. year/month/day/time:
– The first sunrise of the decade.
– That summer I swam a lot in the sea, daily at sundown.
Until I became transparent and merged with the changing colors of the ocean lit by the setting sun.
Like one of them sea creatures in the deep, see-through with neon dots.
– Ocean Cafe, a practice I started in late 2000’s.
Did my “don’t laugh I’m trying to surf” thing around this time as well, the last time before Fukushima blew up.
It was on a moon-lit night, just after it was full. The practice – Night Surf – I started also in late 00’s, fascination and desire to rely solely on my intuition outweighed my fear. I thought it’d make me a better artist.
Not sure if it worked but I haven’t forgotten how I felt: very, very alive.
– “Wing Dress – Velocity” in near completion.
– Light Calligraphy, another naturally emerged “practice” in late 2000’s.
I literally close my eyes and move my camera like a calligraphy brush to “draw” with the light source.
By relying solely on my intuition I thought it’d make me a ….
– Tottori Sand Dune. I got there before sunrise, carrying a sewing body while still dark.
The mini dune sounded intensely quiet, like it does in a desert, especially in those hours.
– Classic Japanese nondescript flip-flops.
A pair carried me to the sea everyday, so worn, I remember even today feeling the bumpy, warm asphalt beneath my soles.
– From the last outdoor swim of the year. I swam so much throughout the summer, sharing the rectangles in the sun with a small group of enthusiasts.
– “Spider Lily Red – Flare 1”, in process.
2017/12/30 time unknown
– “Spider Lily Red – Flare 1”, in association with the ocean.
– On the last day of August I barefooted into the sea, ankle deep in the part of Pacific I’ve known for so long.
The first time since August 2012, a year after the thing blew up.
I was alive again in no time though, like as if I never left.
Like dried wakame reviving itself in water.
– The Last Sunset.
The spectacle at the beach was a gift from The Artist who knows, obviously, how to end the decade with a bang.
Additional Note on “Night Surf” (2020/03/09) :
Possibly redundant but I think worth mentioning is that, accessing the intuition seems easier if I collected enough data, such as, in this case, my strength against the power of the water, the rocks, the depth, the hazards such as sharks. Before hurling myself into the pitch-black water I consulted a fisherman and a surfer knowledgeable about the particular beach, and there on my own made enough mistakes under the sun. The angle of the moon was worth paying attention to as well.
Like a navigation map the human in me wanted to know where I am at, in order to best utilize fear as a fuel so that I could, to my utmost, surrender to the Intuitive.
Panic grows instantly when in the sea. Especially since I was neither skilled nor enlightened, I made sure I was ‘trusting’ enough before each try. Nervous, not frightened, anxious, but excited, eager, than reckless – it is in this longing / resisting I find the spark that enlivens the Creative.
On a walk back from an institutional concrete structure known as a big hospital, I noticed a path through withering weeds, barely beaten, consisting of short uneven steps and pebbly unpaved soil. I turned with my whole torso due to recent neck injury, feeling newly discouraged but still curious, to examine the difficulty level of passing through it.
Being the type to always try a new route, I’d made no exception and carefully taken steps. Immediately I noticed, on dried spikes of stickers a dragonfly, ornamented like a fine art installation waiting to be photographed.
Find!! I thought, with a surge of excitement that I wasn’t as forsaken by luck after all. Carefully I lowered my trunk solely with leg muscles and looked down only with my eye balls, and snapped off the stem in length enough for one of my glass bottles. Just as I started to plan on camera angles however, a surprise slight movement tickled my hand.
The insect, with three out of her four wings got spikes the size of her torso ripping through them, was moving her legs, as if to oppose to my photographic agenda taking place in my head.
No idea how long she had been that way, how had she kept her hope, is she a master of law of attraction, what are the odds of having someone like me, always on a look out for a ‘find’ like her, on foot moving slow, taking a notice of a barely noticeable path, and her predicament?
Out of sheer respect for this chance encounter I, at once, dropped my agenda and gotten to work tackling to break her free with minimum damage to her delicate wings.
As I removed the spikes one by one, she shook her wings off of them, the movement so full of life it was hard to believe she preserved her zeal for however long it took to manifest me.
Turned out one of her wings was more than half gone, another one badly ripped, and my heart sunk, recalling my own, one too many encounters with impossibilities of life. It was a warm day with not even a breeze, and the midday sun encompassed the two of us in a freeze-framed moment, as she rested on my knuckles, freed, facing me. Then with a sudden stamp of her tiny feet and the startling hum of her wings she flew away, leaving the power of her takeoff imprinted on back of my hand, into the field full of silver grasses and their sparkles, as if nothing’s lost, as if to state the most absolutely apparent:
“Broken wings? What broken wings!!”
Neck is nearly healed at the time of this writing (late Dec ’18). I hurt my neck editing photos – stationary for too long in bad “chin forward” posture, pinch nerve, very painful. Forced me on foot for over a month, which, as you can tell, turned out to be quite fruitful.
All photos are from 2018. Bottom two taken during the first sunrise of the year. They are at the bottom because, like waves the dawn always returns, anew, each day.
The first two pictures are from 15th of July at sundown. This post was published on 14th. I didn’t time travel. I edited the post on 16th. Pics on the first version didn’t click. Intuitive click, I didn’t get. Know the kind I’m talking about? The one that gets your spinal discs aligned and chi circulated like a minty breeze.
The 3rd from top is a work in progress named, by a friend of mine, “Earth Fairy Dress”. I haven’t asked her how so but I get the feeling. Cut from the pattern for my current project “Spider lily Red”, “shimmering” silver pigment paint is applied on silk that looks more like a linen-hemp-canvas rag. Ragged but luscious, don’t know whether to laugh or adore. This is the year 2 of durability testing, the paint different from the year 1’s that didn’t quite stick.
The dress will be covered with slightly excessive layers of silver, I will then have to wear it through to the end of warm months, a guinea woman I will be. If the paint continues to shimmer, by the end of the test phase I may turn into an actual fairy.
Also in the photo 3 is a snapshot of the True Contentment. Time spent by the sea with my mentor who was born 25 yrs ago around this time with the tough fate to guide this human disciple, through thick, thin and Japanese humidity.
In the photo #4 you see lots of print tests. Well there is a section in this website called “photography” that apparently never opens. I figured I’d share with you what’s been taking place behind the closed website, so you’ll know I didn’t branch out just to say “soon” forever.
Photo 5 is dedicated to Hydrangea blossoms, their season ends as the real summer arrives, and with it enters Gardenia (as seen in photo #3), the last one of the, what I call the scent season, starting with Ume (Japanese Apricot) in February.
It’s sentimental-sweet, the Gardenia scent. That’s what my nose thinks anyways. In fact, Gardenia blooming itself is sentimental-sweet, happy-sad, oh-it’s-already-the-last-one excited-dissapointment. All the photos on this post are edited accordingly, in colors that embody the sentiment to me, that also are the colors of the season’s sunsets.
The last photo is of a Tanabata bamboo grass with prayer ribbons, not exactly usually done but works regardless. Traditionally the bamboo grasses with people’s wishes tied to them, they float down the stream (not on their own) on July 7th, the Tanabata day, but nowadays it’s loosely prohibited due to “pollution” the floating bamboo-paper would cause. I burnt mine. Then let the waves engulf my heart’s desires. That’s right, you’ve got to unearth wishes from the depth of your personhood just so they’d be set free, into the Immensity nearby.
This may actually be the longest text I’ve posted here and all I talked about so far is my favorite kind of nothing. I usually do my best to keep my words minimum, short like Haiku. Evidently this is not a usual time, it is summertime.
One last thought, and it is about sunset. Nowadays I take sunset very seriously, serious, as in, of value, one of many things I learned from the mentor in photo #3. One day on our walk at, you guessed it, sunset, I asked her, how do you get so excited to walk the same street the same time with the same human. It’s never the same, human. The mentor spoke in Hunch, and glanced at me in mischief, “you’ll get it one day”.
When the one day came the mentor already resigned from the role (it was too humid) but I to this day commit hitting as many sunsets. I get it now, it is a show, a theater, a spectacle, and unless you are an Antarctica penguin, it is on everyday, throughout the year, never the same, and always pretty.
The Ocean’s been doing its fiery thing since yesterday, attracting a small group of devotees either with photography gears or surf boards. The capture is from today, January 2nd, just after sundown.
Somehow words are failing to express my wishes for the year ahead. The Ocean and my camera kindly bypassed the tongue-tied this evening and spelled them all out on the image above.
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)
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