The shower used to be the place where I was calm, where ideas would come to me; running from the shower I would dry off enough and grab for the pen and paper. Now showers are sometimes rushed, still enjoyed, some thoughts, but not the same as before.
Just this morning, while I decided to do those dishes in the sink—washing dishes is not a favorite activity of mine—but today I was there with those dishes and the thoughts were there and I realized that this would be my new space, besides the other little entry points within a day that can cause me to go into a reverie, into the world of my thoughts. When I was done with the dishes I didn’t come directly to the page. Some time went by, and as I was reading and browsing, I realized too that I receive just as much joy reading about books, the description, other reader’s reactions, etc., as I enjoy reading the books themselves. I download more samples than I’ll ever be able to read. Some samples get deleted, some I keep there in case I scroll through the many pages one day in search of a book on top of the many new books that keep showing up. This is one of my races with time. It’s not a race really, but it goes along with my path. Some worlds I enter with my toe and leave it in the shallow end, never to return; other times, my toe keeps nudging in until I’m up to my calf and then my whole body is swimming and I keep on swimming until I reach that end point.
And then I realize that my hair looks scraggly. Something has stirred in me of the want of remaining a pretty flower and I know that inside I feel it, but then the outside—I try to maintain the balance of what is portrayed in the media, what feeds the ideas of perfection—you know what I mean—not perfection but unrealistic physical expectations. I watch my mood go from medium-high to low. Too much in my head. Too much thinking of silly things. These thoughts this morning played into yesterday. I decided to give my hair a trim myself. When it’s short, it grows so fast and it gets costly to maintain. I took the thinning shears I purchased months ago and only used once for two or three quick snips so my hair would stay down on the sides a little better. Yesterday I noticed my sides were getting too long. I asked for them to be longer when the stylist cut my hair last month and I don’t like how they grew out. I snipped and snipped with the thinning shears, which only cut pieces of hair. I liked that the sides were shorter and I thought it looked alright. As I started looking closer, it didn’t look so good. I’m going to need to call and make an appointment to get my hair cleaned up. I used to do this when I had longer hair too. I’d get frustrated and cut my hair myself and then make an appointment. My eyebrows are growing in too and I like them, yet I don’t like them. I think I’m being too hard on myself. I think that there are too many annoying things that are available for women to pay too much attention to the outside. I’ve always been an inside person—not always, that’s not true. For a great part anyway I have been an inside focused person. And I must say being solo makes it that much easier, in my opinion, to not get too wrapped up in those outward things. This will pass; it will also cycle back.
I went to pick up a book on hold from the library last week. I was running short on time, but decided to take a quick look for a certain book. When I didn’t find what I was looking for I quickly looked for something to catch my attention. A white spine with red and black stood out: The Fourth Treasure: A Novel (2002) by Todd Shimoda with calligraphy done by his wife, L. J. C. Shimoda. I was intrigued on reading one of the endorsements on the back cover:
“Brushing heart and mind, The Fourth Treasure has depth and nuance of a skillfully calligraphed scroll. Todd Shimoda balances the worlds of neuro-psychology and the ancient ‘Way of the Brush,’ from Kyoto to Berkeley, from Japanese culture to American and every shade in between.”
—Liza Dalby, author of Geisha and The Tale of Murasaki
I began reading the book that night and knew I was going to be right at home in a world of learning, beauty, and culture. I’m not too far in yet. The story goes back and forth between time periods. I love that throughout the book there are Japanese kanji with a description of the meaning of that particular kanji.
There is a part in the beginning that has moved me and I hope to live these words, to keep them close to my heart:
“Before leaving his studio, the sensei quickly bowed toward a wall scroll, a work of calligraphy completed by the first Daizen sensei on the day he founded the school. The poem—“Live Life as Art”—had become the Daizen school’s motto” (pg. 9).