In my profile of this website, ‘a bit about me’ I shared the episode how the image of a big bad wolf began occupying my mind and trying so hard to convince me to create ‘him.’ Don’t mean to sound ungratified. Actually, I am very indebted to Mr. Wolf for having emerged into my head and tested my bravery. To create something. A challenge I have never dreamt of taking on because I decided early on in my life I don’t mix with creativity. Those special people out there, so artistically talented, gifted, extremely fortunate, are allowed to be creative.
Looking back, I realise the reason why I was miserably conscious about my inability to be creative was due to my upbringing. I knew exactly how I make my mum proud. Praises and recognitions about me from neighbours, relatives, and basically everyone in the world. Hence, the thought of being judged by others is a big deal and somehow it has shaped a vulnerable foundation in my psyche. It affected me a great deal. One of the Buddhist principles teach us not to be swayed by Eight Winds, namely – prosperity, honour, praise, pleasure, decline, disgrace, censure, suffering. Yep, not easy but this is important.
I must say I am happy what I do now. I create random art pictures and write nonchalant blogs about whatever the wisdom tells me. I am free because I can finally follow my heart. My first blog in this website was entitled ‘Can you find Mr. Wolf?’ with a chaotic picture hiding a big bad wolf in it. Originally, he was chasing a little red riding hood (not as his food), but since I made them rather huge I had to separate them. Consequently, the riding hood is appearing in this picture, fed up being chased and screaming ‘basta!’ to everything surrounding her. So you say, but I would like to continue my creation, if I may…Miss…
It’s time of the Tanabata season (or so called a Star Festival) again. The legendary ill-fate two lovers, Orihime (weaving princess) and Hikoboshi (cowherd man) who were forced to separate by the Milky Way, get to meet once a year solely on the night of the 7th day of the 7th lunar month. Their precious rendezvous across the Milky Way is celebrated by the well-wishers beneath the sky too. As a child, we were all taught to write down absolutely any wishes and dreams we had on the bright colour tanzaku (skinny rectangle shape paper) and hang them on the bamboo trees for them to be granted!
This peculiar concept that due to someone else’s auspicious occasion in the night sky will suddenly cause the entire population of Japan to be blessed and any wishes to be come true may be strange to grown ups. However, to the unsullied, innocent children, this golden opportunity must not slip away. Regardless of the spurious idea, ‘one night only’ of the year gazing up the night sky seems so romantic and it still inspires me today so that I have created my version of a tanabata episode.
I have not looked into the anecdote of this romanticised tale much, as far as I am aware the original story was told in China then eventually Japan adapted and moulded it into a Japan’s own style which was added to many different regional festivals. So basically two lovers are representing two stars called Vega and Altair. These stars form a bright triangle shape together with another star in the summer night sky. Unfortunately there are too many street lights that would obstruct my stargazing possibility where I live. Maybe one day I will live in the country side. Maybe, never know.
Yes I am aware I am not supposed to cut origami in pieces. Colourful origami papers are there to be folded specifically into various shapes based on patterns without using scissors no matter how it gets complicated. And I can do that too. Every time I create my random art pieces, I do apologise to all the origami enthusiasts in the world for my rebellious actions. For this picture, I used 8 different colour origami units to create a pinwheel. Amongst many variations out there, these units are very very basic. Just to prove my capability, I used 30 units of these to create the giant origami kusudama below.
My eldest son gave me the huge coffee (or soup) mug he purchased at the San Francisco airport. Placing next to it, I think my kusudama is…big? Youtube tutorials are helpful and fun tools to get into folding origami patterns. Please google, Tomoko Fuse. She is amazing!! Back to my picture. Even breathing gently into the pinwheel, when the wheel sets in motion, generates wind. The wind may blast leaves away if they are in a close range. Whatever we do in life has consequences – the law of cause and effect.
A famous Japanese proverb which depicts this logic eloquently. In short, when the wind blows, the bucket makers profit. The Edo period story goes like this. When the strong wind blows, dusts go into people’s eyes and ruin their eye sights. People who became blind as a consequence take on the job as Shamisen (Japanese string instruments) players. A shamisen body is made with cats’ skin and many cats are killed for the purpose. Mice rejoice now the threats are gone and start biting buckets and destroy . Hence, bucket makers become busy.
A tad bit stretching arriving to the conclusion? Nonetheless, I love the logic very much as a comedy. I think it is similar to the butterfly effect? Being sensible and responsible to own actions require some efforts which I am not too keen on reflecting myself for the subject. Next time, though, if I ever feel like opening my mouth to let some smart remarks out or writing quite sarcastic responses to someone (I dare not to divulge who they are) via emails, I shall reflect on my behavior before I end up contributing to the bucket makers’ wealth.
Rubbing salt in the wounds – there are times we feel like we so had it enough and all we want is to wave a white flag. One ‘off-kilter’ thing after another. Just not happening. Just not working! And of course we have a series of good reasons why we deserve to give up. It is actually the perfect timing to come to a halt and try to bring out the remanence of hidden composure if we can manage. Instead of carrying on, just say ‘Allora?’ what now?
Being trapped in a vicious circle, I somehow know what is lacking in my life – a simple gratitude. My random idea, this time, led to me creating a red balloon in the air. I have developed my pictures (and blogs) with a pair of red wellies and a red toy wagon so far. And here it goes. This poor child inadvertently let go her red balloon and is now doing everything in her power to retrieve it. She’s got a brilliant creativity to jump off the trampoline and reach for her precious balloon despite using such a short broom.
Meantime, the trampoline legs start to go, lightening seems to be flashing in the sky, a swarm of bugs are drawn to the broom for whatever the reasons, and innocent spectators gather together to observe some kind of show they think amusing. At this point, the child must have had been full of grudges and resentments, blaming her broom for being too short, her trampoline for being too old and frail, weather forecast for failing to predict potential thunders, and those innocent bystanders for being indifferent to her ordeal.
In fact, her ordeal echoes my current challenging situations at work. Not only the salt but also garlic, mustard or any condiments are rubbing deeply in the wounds which sadly I have no control over. I don’t need a balloon. I don’t wanna be a drama queen. Just want to see things shift to a right direction! Oh well, tomorrow is a new day. In Kanji, ‘tomorrow’ is written as ‘a bright day.’ We can all reset. Therefore, let’s not take anything for granted. We tend to moan at a milk man if no show even one day, but what about any other days milks being delivered?
I honestly don’t remember how I raised my three sons. It is either that because they were exceptionally well-behaved children I had experienced nothing but pleasure raising them or each day came and went with absolute chaos and tumult my brain experienced short circuit and lost its capacity to retain corrigible information. My unconditional love for them will never ever sway, and I thank them for choosing me as their mother to be born into this world. I know they say, ‘we had no choice, Ma.’ Yeah, yeah…
Since I started creating random pictures, I always wanted to express ‘unconditional love’ between a mother and a baby. So off I started. Whilst happily working my way to achieve the aim, somehow not heading to my desired direction, I realised. Actually, I was very surprised I succeeded to express ‘realism.’ By focusing on a baby’s face innocently perched on mother’s shoulder and vesting ‘unconditional trust’ in her, illustrates a sharp contrast of the back of the mother. Sorrow, pressure, anxiety, hopelessness, exhaustion… Who knows what may be going through her mind.
After all, mothers are human beings too. They (we) are not perfect. Quite often battling with the weight of responsibility as a mother who brought children into this world too. So mutual love and respect, wouldn’t that be important? Oh by the way, one of my dear friends, who is reading my blogs with her husband, (she says as if she is reading a Sunday newspaper column at the breakfast table), shared her interesting insight about this picture. She thought I was challenging people to view the mother figure is a female or a male.
Indeed, I did not create the person overly feminine, knowing many people would assume the person is a mother therefore a female because the person is holding a baby. Nevertheless, those days are behind us. Babies need a reciprocated love and affection – it is absurd to think there is a competition between maternal love and paternal love, isn’t it? Life is eternal, we meet each other due to a strong karmic bond so we should treasure each encounters in this lifetime.
There was no doubt in my mind that I would create an art piece as a gift for my youngest son’s birthday back in March this year. Having done the same for 2 other sons, all I needed was a clue or a theme he would like. ‘Nausicaa of the Valley of the Wind,’ so he declared. Eh! Another Miyazaki’s film? Oh boy, what do I do? Nausicaa is indeed and by far one of my favourites (to be honest, not easy to rank Ghibli movie favourites). One scene came to my mind, relatively within a short span of time, was where Nausicaa and Asbel, a prince of Pejite, went sinking into the quick sand at the bottom of the Sea of Corruption.
Not sure if I do remember correctly or not, but after having deeply fallen into the place, they realise they can breathe without gas masks determining the air is absolutely clean and purified. Nausicaa’s revelation: those horrid insects essentially protect and prevent this sacred space from getting contaminated. Moreover, the dying trees petrify and crumble, they become sands which filter and purify this very place by blocking any toxicities to reach. This scene makes me weep unfailingly every single time I watch and resonates so deeply in my heart. That is it! I want to express this emotion in a simple, abstract way, but can I?
I feel it would be worth mentioning the reason why I get emotional. This sacred place reminds me of the Buddhist concept of ‘nine consciousnesses.’ Beneath the multiple layers of consciousnesses, we all possess fundamentally whole and pure consciousness which is called Amala or Buddhahood. Totally free from being affected by any of the eight consciousnesses, not even our very own karmic storehouse can mandate about. Only by reciting the Mystic Law or Nam-Myoho-Renge-Kyo, we are able to activate our purest self. (https://sgi-uk.org/Philosophy/Principles/Nine-consciousnesses). No matter what goes on in our daily lives, we can always tap into this innermost freedom within ourselves and breathe in and out the purest air. How invigorating!
A blue sky or a blue sea? For instance, if we were to stroll on the beach and gaze into the far distanced horizon, it is not very clear for our sight to discern where the water ends and where the sky begins. No matter how hard we try to scrutinise and identify the border, most probably end up seeing milliards of flashy stars before our eyes and will not succeed. Based on this concept, I felt it is totally up to me to allow both a Superman-ish character flying and a fish swimming simultaneously in the same space, because there is no cognizable barrier between the sky and the sea.
And as always, I would like to give a spot light on someone or some objects that are normally obscured and under appreciated. For my Superman, I had the strangest idea in my head and had to create him accordingly. I thought of using a ‘Jizo statue’ to turn it into my super hero character. Many random places in Japan these ‘off road Jizo statues’ can be found. As far as I am aware, they are so called guardians/protectors of children. Hence, my Superman’s flesh is made out of stones in my picture. A piece of 300 ton metals can fly, why not my Jizo?
Anyway, my chief argument of this picture is about how to tackle with our prejudged minds. The hero Jizo suddenly spotted a troublesome incident way down on the islands from up above the sky and he is on his rescue mission. Apparently, a giant monster is about to attack the little monster, so he concluded. However, is it really though? Isn’t it way too far to access the situation accurately? What about other scenarios? What if they are just playing a tag of war? What if the little monster screaming for a help and the giant monster rushing to get there?
99% of news I read on my mobile phone contain stressful and concerning contents these days. Being constantly and endlessly exposed to negative spirals, no wonder we are hasten to judge things cynically and pessimistically. Thinking of worst case scenarios, in a way, functions as our defence mechanism and save us from going further into mental paralysis. Winning over prejudices may not be easy but it is never too late to start liberating our minds from this instance.
My intention was to write daily if not weekly when I started writing blogs about my random creation of origami-collage art back in December 2020, yet I soon discovered that would not be the case. Of course milliard of excuses justify unattainability of initial ambition, it’s more sadness than any other emotions when I don’t get to sit down in front of the computer or in front of the table with scattered origami everywhere. The joy I experience confining myself in the world of creativity is inexplicable. Pretty much being in a zone? Tears overflow sometimes, feeling so at home and so ancient. The similar sensation I feel every time I watch Miyazaki’s Ghibli anime movies, especially ‘My neighbour Totoro (1988).’
Because my creation has no particular meanings, I thought about how Mr. Frankenstein would react midst of the battle of the North Wind and the Sun, one of the legendary fables by Aesop. As we all know in the end the Sun wins by wrapping around the traveller with warmth of the sun beam and resulting in persuading the traveller to take his coat off. That is a classic example of demonstrating the superiority of persuasion over force in dealing with human psyche. Unfortunately, this golden rule, so to speak, is so easily forgotten!! And we end up wasting time trying to reach consensus by implementing force instead, such as in this post Brexit world between EU and UK or trading businesses in US and China. As if we all have become Frankenstein (no offence to him) who is numb to the effect by the North Wind nor the Sun.
I am sure our parents (or guardians) have taught us putting ourselves in other people’s shoes as we were growing up. They were teaching us how to be empathetic to others. At times no idea what it entails us to do in real life, well thanks to the pandemic we are all in the same boat now, aren’t we? I just remembered, one of my friends had a brilliant idea to wish his sister’s happy birthday with a Cameo Celeb video as a surprise gift. In it, this very well known actor (I got to see a sneak preview!) kept banging on about ‘Science and Kindness’ are the keys to together surmount this crisis. I could not stop applauding – absolutely! Cheers to him!
I am not fond of horror movies to say the least. Clowns are often associated with antagonistic story characters such as in the movies like ‘IT’ and ‘Joker’. Even ‘Mr. Ronald’, the symbol character of McDonalds, looked very scary to me when I was a child, if I encountered one of those shinny, tall statues with huge red lips. Furthermore, it is quite unbearable for me to stare at a face of someone with a clown make-up, albeit appearing in one of the Federico Fellini’s classic movie ‘La Strada’ (1954). When the ill-fated Gelsomina performs a role of a circus clown, I could no longer watch her face squarely.
The moment MC Ant realised, my happy clown extended the saddle of his unicycle way up in the mid air to say hello to a trapeze star. A curious circus clown must have been longing one day to be up there where the spectacular acrobatic trapeze taking place above his gazing eyes, and wanted to meet the most talented performer who was not only alluring him alone but also the entire audiences – no doubt. This precise image was dwelling in my head before I decided to transmit into a picture. And I am so happy having created an unusually non-scary clown.
As I was searching for different types of clowns, I came across with Bozo the Clown. Actually I was delighted since it reminded me of a hotdog place called ‘Bozo’ where I used to go with my family in the States. It was located in the suburbs area near Chicago. The funny thing I found out from this further research online is that the hotdog place name has always been the ‘Boz.’ A tiny logo of a round, smiley face attached to a ‘z’ looked like a letter ‘o’. So I always read it Bozo!! Oh well!! I hope I am forgiven for the error. Anyway, the particulars of their hotdogs – they garnish hotdogs with few slices of cucumbers and tomatoes with plenty of relishes. Interesting, isn’t it?
My ONI is well behaved with a good table etiquette, besides I really don’t wanna know what he is eating, he deserves a spot light for a change. I know my treatment of ONI is unusual and here’s why. Calling out loudly ‘Demons Out!’ ‘Fortune In!,’ the entire family gets involved to mark the end of winter and start throwing dry soybeans at an ‘ONI’ (Demon, Goblin, Ogre, Monster, whatever English translation would be suited) which is most often played by a dad wearing a paper mask of ‘ONI.’ This rather chaotic and messy event is a traditional ritual Japanese perform called ‘Setsubun’ (roughly meaning celebrating the coming of spring) and takes place on the 3rd of February every year.
Anyway, I remember my mum used to buy a bag of dry soybeans from supermarket, after we finish throwing some out the window and some inside the house, we collect the ones remained inside the house for her to roast them. Because we supposed to eat pieces matching the number of one’s age plus one for a sign of good luck. Therefore I am very glad I no longer celebrate it today. ONI are the mythical creatures from the folklore tales, normally depicted to have 2 huge horns on his head with short curly hair and very sharp fangs. They are gigantic, head to toe in red, blue or yellow colour and seem to be wearing a tiger (skin) pattern pants.
They always carry a huge spiky iron club. One of famous proverbs derives from this image. ‘ONI ni kanabou’ (Demon with an iron club) signifies even a most vulnerable person can be empowered with other’s help just like a case of the powerful combo – a demon and a weapon – can become invincible. Another interesting idiom with ONI goes like ‘do laundry whilst the demon is away.’ This expression is equivalent to ‘when the cats away, the mice will play.’ We can almost picture when sneaky children (or adults) locate a hidden cookie jar in the kitchen cupboard whilst mum is away, can’t we? Oh and we should never talk about next year, if we do, ONI will laugh at us.
ONI are believed to steal children and eat them. The peach boy is a role model of exemplifying his filial piety by beating ONI and made his foster parents proud. I am not up to speed with a recent trend of anime industry but at least noises of ‘Kimetsu no yaiba’ (demon slayer) I did catch. I believe its movie sale surpassed the record sales of Spirited Away and became numero uno last December. Surprisingly, the story of fighting against ‘ONI’ fascinates people across the world and beyond the passage of time.
More we think about it, we are constantly facing our own inner demons and fighting not to get succumb into them. There is a concept of ten kinds of troops who are designated to perturb and obstruct people (Nichiren Buddhism Library). Of course troops means personifications of hindrances, nevertheless sometimes I find myself very difficult to stay focused on what I am supposed to be doing. I must admit it is a constant struggle which never goes away. So I shall give my blue ONI a credit for his well-behaviour!