Friday, July 9, 2010

I Am The Walrus

This one is dedicated to Nicholas Strachan and to Steve Guzelis.

I haven't mentioned Nicholas Strachan in this blog until this time - and that may be because while he was an extremely dry wit and a confidante, few of my adventures involved him.

Having said that, Nick was a major influence on my life, and whether he ever knows that or not, I owe him. Big time.

Nick was from Etobicoke, lived maybe three kilometres north of me in Canada - though we never met until we arrived in Japan. I'll relate more about an adventure I had with Nick and friend Chris Rathbone at a later date.

Nick knew I was troubled in Japan. He saw in me a person who was having difficulty in coping with life - not my life involving Japan and the Japanese, but my life. Even now, 20 years later, it's difficult to write about this because I don't really know how to thank him.

Y'see, he realized my mood swings were all over the place and he lent me a book to read. It was on Zen Buddhism. I'll spare you all the philosophy involved, but I will relate to you the three simple phrases that helped me make it through three years in Japan with my sanity (such that it is) intact.

I learned this:
The past is gone - you can't touch it, see it, feel it or hear it. What memories you have can't come close to what one felt when it was first experienced, so why dwell there?
The future is unwritten - it hasn't happened yet - so there's no use in worrying about it.
The present - that's all you really have, so waste it not.

Pretty friggin' deep, huh? I haven't delved further into zen Buddhism. I haven't purchased an orange robe or parked myself under a Bodhi tree to find my inner peace. But I really dig those three points as a way to live my life.

It may seem stupid that I am living my life here in the present by relating to you my past in Japan, but just know that I am having fun NOW presenting this stuff to you.

As well, Nick was also generous enough to tell me that I'm a pretty good writer - no one had ever done that before. He made me think I could actually be a writer, and not just a journalist. He also advised me to check my work better - to ensure my spelling and grammar were correct so as to not cheapen whatever point I was trying to make in my stories. I can't say I have always been successful, Nick - but I do try, and as such you are never far from my thoughts. Aside from this blog, I work as a writer in my 9-5 job.

As for the other guy mentioned at the top of this blog - Steve... aside from us becoming great friends and creating comic books together, he's also one of true genuinely nice guys on this planet. He's also recently become involved in Zen Buddhism.

That's the intro. Here's the blog. It's about a doll.
The photo above is a Daruma doll. According to legend, a monk (the originator of Buddhism) named
Bodhidharma sat facing a wall in meditation for nine years without moving, which caused his legs to fall off from atrophy. He was wrapped only in his robe, which is why the Daruma doll looks just like a head only.

The Japanese sell these dolls at  the temples. They usually come as paper mâché creations, with the robe/body painted in red. Mine isn't, but more in a second. The eyes are usually two empty white spaces. When purchased, a person makes a wish, and colours in the left eye of the doll. When the wish comes true, the right eye is coloured in.

My large doll is covered in silk fabric and is not paper mâché, rather a cotton wadding wrapped in silk. My Daruma doll is apparently a wedding doll - aside from the silks, it also has a beautiful bow wrapped around the mouth area. I'll be honest, I've searched for any information on this particular style of Daruma and have found nothing except what I was told 20 years ago.And my memory is fading. It's a good thing I didn't get too deep into Zen Buddhism and remembered I could write stuff down.

Anyhow... these classic red Daruma dolls are found in almost every Japanese home and are a part of their culture. Like Nick, it beats me why I've never mentioned it before.

Somewhere talking to my nephew Bodhi,
Andrew Joseph

Today's title is by The Beatles: SITTING ON A CORNFLAKE

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