Saturday, May 9, 2020

Misc Thoughts

This is not not-about-the-plague, but miscellaneous thoughts, disparate musings going nowhere but which I find compelling in as much as I haven't forgotten them as soon as I mused.

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There is a Japanese term, "entering from form," pertaining to learning something new; it means one must imitate the physical actions until one has mastered the "it." Another is, "Steal with your eyes;" Japanese masters seldom taught, but apprentices learned by observing and mimicking. Then there is, "Don't study, get used to it," an extension of the above; instead of learning from lessons/lectures and books, just do it, "practice" it, repeat it, until you... get used to it. Here's another, "Learn it with your body." There is an anti-thinking streak in Japanese training/learning; some days I get bored of studying and prefer to just do things. It must be in my DNA.

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Volume runs competitions to win book prizes and ask interesting questions. I don't always respond, but often consider them. This week it was, "Tell us something you learned about yourself during lock-down." My submission was, "Long having known my life is a trail of unfinished projects, the smorgasbord of real life friends’ finished projects in record speeds posted on the Internet, particularly in the early days of lockdown, drove me to distraction. Easily swayed, I held disproportionate hopes for some of mine with characteristic best intentions, but of course I haven’t touched most. But I learned I can work incrementally, and sometimes this carries me over the finish line. I’ve adopted, and have become attached to my new mantra, “It’s not nothing,” while trying not to dwell on diminishing aspirations." Signed, "the shrivelling dynamite."

Thursday morning I had an epiphany. I am a slow-moving (even for a) sloth so not making the most of a global pandemic is on me. But during lockdown, while other blokes may have gotten projects finished, Ben has been working, some days longer than usual. So whatever house/garden work we do is done only on weekends, which is exactly the same as always. Duh!

Not sure what to make of the long-term diminishing of ambitions/aspirations, though. Disappointing? Realistic considering my age? I remember Mom had good intentions for half a dozen weaving projects months before she went into care. I thought she was just saying things to pacify me and even told her it's OK to give up weaving if she wasn't genuinely feeling it. Now I wonder if I'm telling myself the same, and if so, it's much too early.   

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I've been amused how influenced I've been by how others deal with the lockdown. There is my desire to get the best information; to follow rules, (to the letter - I am an ex-convent-school Japanese after all;) and to play my part in this global fight against a common enemy. I make my own rules, too. (Top NZ  Govt doc is still on the fence about masks, ergo a big part of NZ. Meh, I know what masks do and don't do. Some people's resistance towards masks, and before that, bowing, make me laugh, other days I pity.)

I also feel great FOMO about a kind of creative sensitivity makers are supposed to have, to gain insight from this experience and start creating in new ways. I read about online publishing/posting/exhibitions/performances/challenges, but haven't taken interest in any. Instead, I've been enjoying free theatre, opera and even ballet most days.

Although earlier I was honestly obsessed with food preparation and our stock, I may be taking the time to clean the kitchen and cook in the mornings not just so I'm ready at 1PM to catch the government updates, but so I can enjoy these videos while not exactly doing nothing.

I tell myself this is OK. In our little town there is so few occasions to soak in any Shakespeare, for example, and to be able to see performances from The Globe or The National Theatre, or opera not only from the Met, (sometimes available at our cinema,) but Vienna and Paris have been blissful.

And yet, and yet, by not making things now, by not being inspired to make something, I can't deny feeling I'm missing out on a good global pandemic as a creative catalyst.  

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I haven't woven anything nor had the desire to, although I've coerced vague thoughts about the future. Ditto knitting, I still haven't reached any conclusions about the brick red "generous medium-size" cowl that's stayed the length of a young/skinny girl's skirt for three months. I can't bring myself to start another knitting project without finishing this. I'd love to indulge in needlepoint but I don't have enough yarns/colors.

I haven't drawn or painted, but this is the one area I feel an urge. I've been intrigued by one Manolo Valdes's variations on themes; he has a few recognizable motifs, (I spot Velasquez and Matisse,) and reworks them in paint and collages. I rescanned my weirdly-shaped walker who keeps returning to me, last appearing in my prints; I traced a few outlines in my sketchbook to color in, and cut out the shapes to help me arrange collage materials. We'll see how this goes.

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There was for a while, (maybe still and I don't notice?) much in the press about lockdown/isolation and depression/anxiety/stress, so much so the press was making people feel they must experience these, as these are the norm and there is something wrong if you don't feel this way, rather than offering information in case needed.

Occasionally I saw articles about how kids are going to be alright in lockdown; how parents needn't worry if they are not effective "teachers". Also there were a few articles on how many with anxiety have done well because there is actually something to be anxious about, how we switched to managing practical steps. This is a familiar pattern for me as we had a few deaths and illnesses in Japan in the last couple of decades and every time Ben and I relied on me taking on a robot-like MO in preparing our trips.      

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Re. incremental gardening, because of the lockdown, with or without Ben, my Cold Season Gardening started early; I have been working here and there with some visible results. Even though there is a long way ahead, it makes me feel good.
I'm collecting miniature Kowhai seedpods, of which we have oodles. I'll sow some, but many more are going to good homes in Nelson and beyond to become trees, and perhaps for Tom to cast.
Our tiny feijoas. Ben said we had many more flowers than usual last season; I'm pretty sure that's why too many are falling too young and unripe. Some pruning to come.

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For my Facebook Plague Diary, I've been using the camera on a regular basis and I'm enjoying it. There is a short window in the late morning when the sun comes streaming into the kitchen and I indulge in a few high-contrast macro pics some days.
 Garlic
 Esther's Kiwi Pear

5 comments:

  1. About a week ago I started this post with a specific topic dear to me for some time, even though it was still of miscellaneous import. In the following days I kept adding tiny thoughts that cropped up. Today, while editing, I lost sight of that original whatever, and am left with a distinct feeling I edited it out.

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  2. I am sort of doing the equivalent of 'being', weaving tea towels in endless loops. Not thinking too much, just doing. However we manage to survive the pandemic is perfect. Friends complain they can't focus on anything. Neither can I, much, so just doing is working for me. And I am finally weaving down my stash.

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    1. I do believe your head-down-bum-up more-or-less-normal living is/was/would have been the best way, Laura. And for weavers, what's better than burning through stash, right? You have been writing a lot, also? I can't focus on anything, either, and this morning I wondered if I am automatically deploying tactics I learned through depression - do something I can concentrate on, and this time it's been cooking, with a wee bit of gardening, with Bardy/operatic flavours. I can't help feeling, also, that I, (and I always struggle with the correct verb here,) appreciated the experience of so many humans doing the "same" thing simultaneously, the world over.

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  3. I went to leave a comment, then hit the wrong button and poof!

    For me weaving is as much therapy as anything. It feels good to see my yarn stash going down and the finished tea towels piling up. I am trying to blog daily, pithy thoughts I hope will keep others going during this time during which many are feeling difficult.

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    1. Lately, sometimes I'm finding it hard to even complete a sentence, and keep changing/editing even simple comments on FB. I hope it's temporary. Although if I can't write, it may make me work more on the loom? I'm glad you're doing well, Laura.

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