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Here Is Your Scarab – Happy Coincidences in Creativity.

Note:
Scarab reference is from a tale about Carl Jung’s synchronicity bits, about his “psychologically inaccessible” patient (“” by me) not buying any of it until a scarab beetle turned up just as she was telling the doc about a dream she had of the very insect and proven his point to her.

“Don’t tell me what I’m doing, I don’t want to know.

The grand thing is to plunge ahead and see what your passion can reveal.”

One night, season unknown, circa 1998.
I placed a worn vinyl on a turntable, as I’ve done so many times since I found the album over a decade ago at a record store cleverly named Pied Piper. It was getting late, getting ready for another day at work, weary, spent, mildly agitated.

Those days I recall feeling like I was running in a dream, my intent racing while my feet stuck in mud. It was around the time I got hit with a spark of inspiration to paint a dragon with fabric dye on a dress without knowing where to start, seemed like a massive undertaking, unsure if I got what it takes, if it’s worth the trouble.

If I pour all I have into it how far will I go? As an artist, as a person. It was the kind of question that triggered my existential dread, that put me in an instant on a remote island afloat in Galaxy somewhere, lightless, alone. No one had the answer, and that included myself.

Up to that point I spent a good portion of my life being kinda sorta artsy. Limitless Freedom, Creativity in the purest sense entails, frightened me into an uncomfortable standstill, agitated, stuck in mud, as I was that evening.

When it came to the last song of the Side A everything stopped. A moment’s pause between the songs turned eternal, a very loud silence. As if the world froze except me and the song to come, commanding my fullest attention.

“Open wide the hymns you hide
You find renown while people frown
At things that you say
But say what you’ll say.

About the farmers and the fun
Things behind the sun
People around your head
who say everything’s been said
Movements in your brain
sends you out into the rain.”

And I heard the words as if for the first time, written and sung, as the story goes, by a young man died young before he found his audience, addressing my anguish I could not articulate, as if someone, something used the song – because my heart was open to it, so I can reach within, afraid but aided, and find my own answers.

“Who’ll hear what I say” – the young man sung to me for the thousandth time, but that evening I heard it, humbled by the profoundness of the Creativity itself, perfectly timed, the wisdom, the patience, handing me the assurance I did not know I was ready to receive, shone through the impossibility, the cruelty of life in the society we live in.

“Fill this sieve with sand and you’ll get a dime!!”

Fast forward to year 2021. After many more incidents like the one I just told you about, I picked up a book I’ve been meaning to read ‘one day’ for the past few decades. It was perfect really, it was the end of late summer, finally gave myself what I’ve been promising, a gift of luxurious “Book Time on the Beach”, and I picked up the dystopian novel with hopeful ending. Unexpected though, was to find bunch of “scarabs” in it, right from the get go.

It was also right after I posted a journal entry titled “Stir”, in it I mentioned about my 9yr old art project, how I “no longer know what I am doing” but that “is actually a very good sign that you/r art is getting somewhere.” Not knowing of this variety no longer troubles me as it did in 1998, but I be lying if I said it totally doesn’t. The quote at the top, from the book’s introduction, to me was a sign I’m vibing fine with the Creativity, my Invisible Bestie so better rest assured and enjoy the sunlight. But it didnt end there.

Half way into the book, I found a following line, spoken by the main character, on public transport agitated in anguish.

“Consider the lilies of the field.”

Lilies of the Field, the very wording I’ve used since while back, to call upon the muse of my aforementioned art project, painting in progress, with the method I practiced since 1998, poured as much of myself into it and here I am, in the middle of the year 2 of global confusion trying to paint as fast as humanly possible, while the world methodically closing in on us.

Consider the Lilies of the Field. The line found me, while on the beach with the “tsunami wall” a towering ton of concrete breathing down my back while the Ocean itself reduced, as if, to everyone’s favorite garbage bin with Godzilla lurking somewhere in the deep while waiting, from somewhere down in Mariana trench the answers would emerge, for the questions one can ask only while pushing through the same old mud pit.

Lastly.
By bringing up words and works from the prominent folks in the society, my intention is not to publicly validate my points with them but rather, to use them as a proof that in Creativity, as the Grandest Container in which our society resides, the Spark of Inspiration will permeate through even the faintest hairline cracks, and send its Most Benevolent Beam right into the core of you, piercing the facade of impossibility, rest assured, at your very earliest convenience.

Endnote:

Titles of the book/music are intentionally unmentioned in the main text.

Quotes, except “the lilies” are edited sensibly by myself.

“Open wide…” – Nick Drake (a.k.a. the young man) “ Things Behind the Sun” (1972).

“Don’t tell me…” (p.2), “ Sieve” (p.101) and “Consider…” (p.102) – Ray Bradbury “Fahrenheit 451” (1953)

Re. Tsunami Wall I mentioned – web search “tsunami wall japan” and you’ll find lots of articles and news stories.

My take? I never saw humanity as the land owner of this Planet. According to my book, we are just renting our space in the Very Intelligent Ecosystem. Other lives sharing the place with us. We benefit from them, in fact, can’t keep on without them.

And, I’m saying this with objectivity of a life long cultural outsider with minimum dose of nationalism, Japan is the birth place of the term “Umami” – the delicately vague taste was given a name in this culture. Most often used to describe the flavor of soup stocks from dried fishes / kelps/ mushrooms, Japan has its history deeply rooted in a humble dance with Nature itself. Not to conquer but to dance with. Nature’s lead. Nowadays it’s hard to find food items without “amino acid (MSG that is)” – the lifeless equivalent of Umami.

Once upon a time our ancestors built their homes on 1000+ islands on fault lines with many active volcanos, the sources of hot springs and tsunamis. Modern day first world comforts, like treats we didn’t earn, have seemingly made too many of us, me included, entitled and somehow, paradoxically, disempowered, disconnected from True Generosity, the Ultimate Free Lunch with no strings attached.

Last Edited:
December 25, 2021 – added “MSG” bit.

New Moon in Virgo

The year in review.

Ocean waves at sunset.

September 17, 2020.

Several hours before the moon to turn dark, I brought myself to my favorite sand dune, suited up in my swim gear, like I had been all summer. Mid day in the midst of September, temperature noticeably lower but water was still warm and inviting.

I kept myself pretty much out of the sea since Fukushima incident nine years ago and spent every summer in torment, pining for my ocean fix like I would for a long lost love but this year, after hearing some millionaire technocrat talk about nano technology embeds planned for regular humans like myself I made a decision that an extra plutonium particle or two in my snout wouldn’t be a big deal.

Rat and birds illustration.
Abstract artist at work.
Coffee cup with a leaf.

Usually this particular beach has chaotic white forms right at the shore giving me a clue about my whereabouts – as once in water, perspective changes and you become a minute miniature existence floating in the merciless energy soup. But this day it was a little different.
The shore break was nearly non existent. Smaller day I thought, and did not assess the current nor my physical prowess of the day.

Ocean worn found objects.
A sparrow on the zoo cage.
Fish scales close detail.

Over confidence boosted by over eagerness can cause an issue or two. Without realizing I swam out further than usual and not too long after I started to struggle. Exhaustion grew rapidly like never before and with each wave I had to duck my strength drained in heaps.

Then a thought hit me: this is how people drown. I recalled a news story about a recent mysterious drowning of an actress I had not known existed and my thinking, how could you drown in a ripple-less lake? Fear inflated instantly while my arms turned weighty rubber and I knew I was in trouble.
Then came another thought, this time with quiet, solid confidence I never knew I had:

I am not drowning here.

The next moment I felt the Guidance kicking in, and I turned on my back and floated to rest. But waves kept coming and I had to duck and duck and duck. There was only one other person on the stretch of the beach, and he, a surfer, was just getting in as I arrived, and was way over there to notice me.

Or so I thought. Few moments later I saw him walking across the shore closest to where I was as I called out “Help!!”, to which he responded swiftly.
Guidance strongly at work by then, and just as strong was the surfer who happened to be on the beach that day. As if automated I floated on my back again so as to receive help with least harm to this young man. He positioned himself between me and the horizon and gave several powerful pushes at my soles, like he would to a surfboard. Neither party said nothing, but the communication was in Perfect Flow.

Drying spider lily blossom.
Spider lilies blooming in the field.
Art work in progress.

What happened this day have been on my mind since. Thought about it many times where it went ‘wrong’ and what I can do in my future swim. I was fortunate, no doubt. Typing this I still feel my heart quicken.
Each time I go over though, this one point when I said “I am not drowning here” stands out as the pivotal one.
In my struggle I declared, intended from the very core of my existence. Calmly, firmly.
And with bottomless Mercy, Life responded accordingly.

Special shout out to Guidance, Mercy and the surfer I do not know the name of.

A bird feather.

Photos, from Top:
01: The beach.
02. Year of Rat rubber stamp, not quite there but I meant well.
03. At work, May.
09. Best picnic of the year – with my muse, red spider lilies, October.
10. The work, as of December 28. (Getting there.)
11. The best find of 2020.

Last Edited: 31Dec20

Cocoon.

She was a compact two wheel drive in the modest shade of silver.
Previous owner from western Japan left a cigarette burn on the driver’s seat.
Sales man at the lot remarked on my face, said I look rusted like the car’s old engine.
Purchase was made in autumn 2011, the year everything felt like one big defeat.

Thought nothing good would come from this, turned out couldn’t be further from the truth.
Soon there were nights parked on a sand dune, curled up to hear the endless loop of waves.
We’d ride up the hills, into the storm and rest under the trees, wrapped in their unquestionable resiliency.
Most importantly though, she was a shelter with changing sceneries, encased my shedding, the morphing, the reaching for Creativity.

My humble, sturdy sidekick fell silent in the late February 2020.
“Cocoon spat me out” I said, I felt like a cicada freshly out of his, with soft pale green wings that harden overnight.
100 months in my modest silver cocoon, had brought me to where I always dreamt I’d visit.
We took one long ride together, thousands sunsets enclosed us along the way.

A wave on a cloudy beach.
Windshield rain shadows on a journal.
Cloudy sky through a driver seat.
A tree in rain through a windshield.
An abstract drawing in afternoon light.
Night Ocean.
Gardenia blossoms obstructed by leaves.
Artworks in a studio.
A windshield pattern on rainy drive.
Swans against water ripples.
A gardenia bouquet in an artist studio.
A self portrait on a curved mirror.
Textile art work in studio.
A rear view mirror self portrait.
Works in progress in artist studio.
A car parked on a rural road at dusk.

This post is dedicated, an ode to my sidekick, we had parted our ways in early April.
Photos are mostly taken with iPhone, all edited using vsco B5 filter.
All artworks are from the series “Spider Lily Red” (2012 – ).
The second selfie: “one eye” is a happenstance, I am so very much a ‘commoner’.
The sales man did not receive my vendetta; figured him being him would be the punishment enough ;)

What broken wings?

The year in review.

A water bird on sea shore.

November 19, 2018.

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.

Full Moon with a gull.
A chair on sunset shore.
A Fishing Cormorant in cage.

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!!”

Leaves in morning light.
Sea shore in morning light.

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.

FAQ: What took you so long?

The year in review.

Port view from a car window.
Hydrangea from a car window.
Ocean front sunset.
A curved mirror self portrait.

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.

A Spider Lily Blossom at dawn.
A Spider Lily Petal detail.

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.

A lily bouquet by a car window.
A coffee cup by the ocean.

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.

Art work in progress.
A coffee cup at a port.

Abstraction in Nature, a Tribute.

September 1996, Los Angeles, north east San Fernando Valley, mildly Mexican* neighborhood. The flat expanse with wide, uncrowded streets evenly lit by dry desert sun.

The place I rented, a garage of a little house, a loft-like mini shelter for me and my canine friend Sophia, stood next to a rectangle swimming pool the landlady tirelessly cleaned. Separated by sort-of lawn was a main house, with two rooms for rent, both occupied.
The other end of mi mini casa was a neighbor’s yard, where serious mariachi parties took place thankfully not too often, complete with a set of super woofer speakers you’d find in night clubs. How I knew? I snuck a peek tiptoed over a sloppy stack of cinder blocks stood between me and the fiesta.

A wood carving and natural objects.

So, the place I rented. In one of the rooms in the main house, the one adjacent to the Mariachi’s, lived a petite lady, a tipsy intellectual. Told me she was a wine taster trained in France, in the kitchen we shared, in a stained XL tee, a stemmed glass in her hand, held as if she was standing under a chandelier.
Then suddenly one day she had a boyfriend. I recognized him from the 711 corner across the street, hanging with alert eyes, in business transactions, the back alley type of deal. From there things progressed rapidly and it was not long before I found him in our kitchen, a new resident in the honeymoon phase. Soon after I took refuge in a living room at my friend’s nearby.

A wood carving and natural objects.

My friend, he lived on the Avenue Quiet only a few blocks from the Villa Mariachi, with his ailing wife and a lady who was there to help her out. Their generosity to welcome me in along with a rather large, wise but energetic dog into a full house is worth a mention, but it didn’t end there. He, a sculptor in hiatus, offered me the full use of his studio.
“You are an artist”, I wasn’t that convinced but he proclaimed anyways. “Artist makes art.”
That was the only string attached to the offer.

All his sculptures were made from wood, abstract with true substance. Used to exhibit, said he, did well for a long time. Something held me back from asking what changed all that.
The studio was originally, again, a garage. No light entered from the California sun but I could feel the heat. Tables, tools, wood scraps. Works half done, paused. All sat still gathering dust.

I was not certain of my ability to carve or to sustain my interest. Where is my fiesta? Besides, it was sunny outside. As I began to gather dust myself, a book, its title, caught my eye.
“Abstraction in Nature”
The three words made all the sense in the world. I knew exactly what they meant but had no idea until then it was something to write a book about. It was enough to get me started though.
Carve, sand, buffer. Shapes began to appear. As if there were ideas floating about waiting to be caught by the next available human.

A wood carving and natural objects.

I spent about a month and a half at the Sculptor’s, before moving over the hill to Hollywood, the place I so missed all the while I lived in the Valley. The milder sun and some fiestas, but most notably, walks on Sunset with ever proud Sophia strutting past girls in 7 inch heels working the Boulevard. Strangely though, now in 2017, I get just as excited google-earthing the Valley, if not more.

The things I absorbed in the Sculptor’s studio seemed to have gone dormant for a long while after that but looking back, I think, maybe that wasn’t so. You see, those things never really quit on you.
In fact, I have reasons to believe they had gone ahead and nurtured themselves while waiting, years of waiting, of dropping hints, nudging with intrigues, for this human and her next available moment.

A wood carving and natural objects.

I finished total of 8 pieces during my stay at the Sculptor’s, and got 3 more on pause. For this post I photographed four of them arranged with masterpieces made by someone else.

Lastly, I wrote this as a tribute, to my sculptor friend who’s passing I learned only several days ago, and to ‘Abstraction in Nature’ who definitely never quits, crystallizes into elements large and minuscule everything there is to life: the feast, the knife, and the whole enchilada.

Wood carvings and natural objects.

*In considering the current – as of March 2017 – trend of Mex bashing in U.S., I’d like to add:
“Colors” of the characters are intentionally unmentioned (hint: there are 4 in the post). I went to Angeles with no prior knowledge of Mexican culture, or how Chicanos (or Japanese for that matter) are positioned in the society. Mariachi blast landed on a blank canvas. Growing up in Japan I did not face discrimination based on color, nor do I have a strong inclination toward seeking my identity through the culture I was raised in, and that is where I am coming from, just an observer of the – our – human condition.