This video is in honor of all the bright, inquisitive, lively students who took my workshops.
It’s a thank you present from me, to you.
I’ll be returning to Japan, my second home, in the beginning of November 2013, and I will live in Japan until mid-April 2014.
I hope to give lots of workshops. And I will be giving individual lessons in Osaka and Kobe too.
I hope I will see many of you again.
Life is better when we’re together.
I confess. I don’t enjoy doing more than one thing at a time. I don’t enjoy waiting on hold for a real person to pick up while I am chatting on Facebook and listening to iTunes. That’s over the top for me. I can do it, but why?
When we are multi-tasking sometimes we are mono-sensing. When straining to read some small print on some chat window at the bottom of the screen that popped up just as I was getting ready to sign off on Facebook, my hearing, touching, and kinesthesia plummeted without my knowing it. When the person finally picks up on the other end of the line after 20 minutes, having forgotten all about them, I hussel through my open windows looking for the very little icon I have to click, not feeling much of anything other than a general sense of panic and that all too familiar tightness in my neck that goes with it. I can’t hear her because iTunes is still playing and a song just came on that reminds me of a really hard time in my life that I’d rather forget. I quickly locate the speaker-off button, push it, and that God awful song in gone as well as the woman’s voice I waited 20 minutes for, the women I need to speak with because yesterday my car insurance expired. I quickly push the speaker-on button and that song returns accompanied by a strange gulping sound meaning someone has just hung up on the other end, like they did on that day I’m trying to forget.
That’s why I like doing one simple thing at a time, like washing dishes. In fact, even doing one thing at a time for me is a lot. Because I am a multi-senser, often happily lost in a world of multi-sensorial experience. I’m washing a bowl. I’m enjoying its shape, visually and tactually. I’m listening to the water, feeling its coolness. (We’re all saving energy here in Japan). The sinks are lower here so I am finding a wider stance and a little more flexion in my leg joints. I feel like an athlete ready to wash a mound of dishes, the more the merrier. We’ve got an assembly line going. I’m washing. Yoshiko’s rinsing, and Masako’s drying. It’s great being with them. Warms my heart.
Maybe sometimes we’re doing more but living less. I don’t know. Maybe so. It’s worth considering.
It’s not what I expected, feels nothing like I thought it would, this release from the need to be anyone, from the need to be of biographical worth, noteworthy. No more life lived as an imaginary filmmaker, producer, director, scriptwriter, cameraman, editor, and leading man, a film, mind made, not for me but for others to see, to admire, to adore, and to endorse.
Now that I have abandoned my magnum opus, some fifty years in the making, what remains? What remains having left the studio, the black box behind? What welcomes and waits for me in the cool, fresh blue light of evening?
What shall I do now that my purpose in life has vanished like some mirage wavering before me, there, so real, then gone?
There must be some hidden purpose to my life, mustn’t there? There must be some imperative, some vision to fulfill, some mission to accomplish. How will I know what to do, which way to go? Can I live a life without a center, without a hub?
A yes arises from exactly where I don’t know. What I do need to know is where I am now, and the ability to see just far enough before me to know there is ground under my feet and space through which to move. If I attend and trust that should do it.
Could I be here for the sake of simple enjoyment? Could my job be to be jobless, to be available, a volunteer ready to go where I can best serve? What about money you ask? How will I survive? It seems I have managed, given I am still alive.
Time is not passing, I am. Can I accept this, embrace this?
Do I really need saving? I mean saving myself like an old, obsolete resume stored inside a little image of an icon of a folder within a folder?
Do I really need those photo albums sitting in a room, in a closet, on a shelf, stored in some dusty box no one has opened for years?
Why keep an accounting of my life? Why keep a record? Why keep track?
Why carve some graven image of myself, no matter how striking the resemblance?
Why continue to produce a film about a life that, when lived, is so much more moving and miraculous than a film could ever be?
Why does now feel like the only thing eternal?
Why do friends, and strangers too, who are no longer strangers, look like stars in the night?
Why does everything I hear sound like music?
I don’t know, and I don’t need to know.
“So who was it? Who discovered zero?”
“An Indian mathematician; we don’t know his name. The ancient Greeks thought there was no need to count something that was nothing. And since it was nothing, they held that it was impossible to express it as a figure. So someone had to overcome this reasonable assumption, someone had to figure out how to express nothing as a number. This unknown man from India made nonexistence exist. Extraordinary, don’t you think?”
from The Housekeeper and The Professor by Yoko Ogawa
photo: B. Fertman
Fair Is Fair
Bamboo trees live for a hundred years, flower, then die.
Roots intertwined, every tree stabilizing every tree.
Strong winds blow.
The bamboo grove bows deeply.
The winds die down.
The trees stand up.
Every bone in our body is curved. Every one.
If our bones were straight, and our joints were square,
We couldn’t bow. We couldn’t bend.
Side by side, a group of archers practice archery.
They draw their tall bows.
Their bows bend.
The top and the bottom of their bows
Curve slightly toward the center.
The further the archers pull their string back,
The rounder their bows become.
The vertical yields to the horizontal.
In the hands of leaders
Who are grounded, strong, and balanced,
The rich, at the top will bend,
And the poor, at the bottom will rise,
Widening the middle class.
Who are groundless, spineless, and shaky,
The rich will get richer,
And the poor will get poorer.
Our children, deprived of flying forward into an open future.