Over the last three days I actually haven’t drawn or painted at all, largely because my time was taken up with other things (like earning money). So today, when given the time to do something creative, like draw a pineapple (a real pineapple), I kind of balked. (My prof from last semester said that to stay in the groove, it helps to draw something each day, even if it’s just a doodle.) I still haven’t done it, but I did take some photos to work from, in case the pineapple gets cut before I can study it.
I’d forgotten that fruits, vegetables, and flowers are interesting things for me to work at — like the three mangoes I ate and didn’t think of drawing out at all, though of course now it is very evident that I could have.
It’s kind of crazy — I’ve got four days off in a row coming up ahead of me (!), and I don’t want to waste the time, but it’s really new not to be forced to do something, you know? I mean, I know it is college and all, so I do get to study what I want, but I’m normally given predetermined assignments and deadlines to work at, within that framework. To not have any guidelines or requirements at all always strikes me as new, and I generally end up wasting the first few weeks in adjustment.
So let’s see…as a continuation of last night’s post…I’ve been taking some slack back up in trying to relearn Japanese language. I meant to pick up a book at the library which would help me where it comes to reading…but I didn’t take the time on my lunch break to get it, and I was too busy otherwise to take the trip out. I can work with the books I already have, it’s just that really it would be nice to have a tutor like the ones I see in the library sometimes, working with the little kids who are speaking fluent Japanese with correct intonation. 🙂
I know that I seriously need to get back on learning katakana — I’ve lost most of it. In addition, kanji are most of what mess me up these days where it comes to reading and writing. I think the grammar is pretty embedded, so far as I’ve learned it (nan to iu hehe), but there are little things about the different kanji that trip me up (radicals which appear in one of two similar kanji but not the other), and I don’t even correctly identify said kanji as the correct character at times. What is really annoying is trying to recall the spelling of a character from memory and writing it wrong (!)…over and over again, thinking it’s correct. Not cool.
What I’m just going to have to do is read aloud to myself. I hate doing it, but it’s the only way I’m going to remember how to talk. Most of the time when I actually need to use Japanese anyway, it is spoken, not printed (as say, when I’m checking out with a cashier who is more comfortable with nihongo [Japanese language] than eigo [English language]).
So I suppose that I can jump back to Japanese for Busy People and my kanji books when I just really don’t know what to do — and neither cleaning the bathroom nor doing laundry will satisfy the void. 😉 I’m fairly certain that JfBP #2 and #3 are at my library, so I don’t even really have to worry about running out of study material and needing to visit Japantown anytime soon (though there is a closer bookstore I just thought of which might carry the series, as it’s generic enough).
I just have to make some sort of commitment. The problem is what happens when school is back in and I’m back to 19 hours at my job. I have taken to doodling out parts of sentences, with what vocabulary I can still remember, and maybe that will be a good part of trying to retain what I’ve learned. Ultimately, what I want to do is be able to read and understand Japanese literature and nonfiction writing, though that’s a big step from where I’m at now — probably somewhat bridged by manga, where it comes to it. I am getting back into anime, too, minorly, so there are some listening skills being exercised there. It would just be nice if I knew where to find Japanese language tutors or teachers who aren’t based in the City. Or, maybe I should engage the tutors I do see.
I had thought of checking out adult schools nearby, and also the gathering places for the Pure Land sects which are around here (Pure Land is the most popular branch of Buddhism, in my country). The latter sometimes cross over with Japanese-American cultural centers, and do festivals for the turning of the seasons — which are the only reasons I know about them.
Anyway, I’m also hoping that learning written Japanese will help my art skills. It’s not guaranteed, but calligraphy is considered the highest form of art in Japan. (I’m thinking that my desire to be able to write in kanji or hanji is related to past-life influence, but that’s a faith thing.)
Speaking of Buddhism and calligraphy, I did pick up a couple of books which relate to spirituality. One of them is fiction (I’m trying to get back into reading fiction), the other not. I do still also have a number of unread books on my shelf which relate to Buddhism, which might be informative seeing as how I have taken the Triple Jewel, and have had a myriad of thoughts spurred off from that reading which aren’t limited to the reading. I should get back to that, and meditating. I’m supposed to be doing the latter for my health, anyway.
I also have a number of books on Daoism which should be at least informative in the way of giving a counterpoint to the Buddhism…though if I’ve learned anything about competing religions, it’s not to take either of them too seriously where they oppose each other. (Buddhism and Daoism were at one time competing for followers in China, and borrowing/stealing each other’s ideas and claiming them as their own in the pursuit of laity. That means that to this day, they sound a lot like each other. I’ve seen this everywhere except where Buddhists say to take action against one’s learned habits in the pursuit of compassion, and Daoists say to flow with and not against one’s nature.)
And in regard to all which preceded in this post? I’m feeling kind of Asian right now…? It’s kind of funny when I’ve been in my art classes and others don’t suspect I have this perspective, until I start talking about it. (My physical racialization doesn’t match my predominant cultural heritage.) Particularly where it comes to the bodhisattva thing, my existence may confirm others in their beliefs, you know? After all, if I am a bodhisattva (one who has committed to helping others reach their own enlightenments prior to entering Buddhahood)…I’ve basically committed myself to a series of hard lives, but with the support of my friends and family, in spirit and existing on the physical. There’s nothing that says that all Buddhists must look unmistakably Asian, you know?
Nor is there anything which says that a passionate person can’t be Buddhist, or that I can’t be a Buddhist person if I have anger. Well, maybe someone says the latter, but just because someone says that they’re Buddhist and I’m not, doesn’t mean I have to listen to them, either. Because it doesn’t matter. 😉 That was a lesson that took a long time coming…
I wonder if at one time, I will feel all right with, or good about, wearing my vishva vajra again…I stopped wearing it because I was expressly not going with the Tibetan Buddhist stream at that time, and even though it was beautiful, I felt like I was using it to buy into an identity that wasn’t mine. Basically, it’s like wearing a cross if you’re not Christian. (…which I’ve experimented with as well when I was younger, but it meant little to nothing to me, and caused me to wonder what I was doing with it at all. I wonder if I gave it away?) The vishva vajra is a symbol of the power of compassion to cut through everything, so far as I’m aware (there is not a lot of extant literature that I’ve found on Tibetan Buddhist symbols), and also a protective symbol and mandala.
The hard part about buying Buddhist accoutrements is that on some level it can feel as though one is following a creed for the sake of having an identity, whereas in its best forms, Buddhism is about questioning everything and settling on one’s own conclusions — given as they are from the experiences of this number of muddled lives. It also seems to be assumed, though, that eventually everyone may reach a similar conclusion. And it’s hoped, at least in Mahayana (the Vehicle I align most closely with), that eventually everyone will reach awakening.
Though I wouldn’t say at this point that I am Buddhist, and in fact I’m thinking that saying that I am Buddhist negates my own practice of self-liberation, it’s tempting to buy an item and say “I am this” to try and evade that kind of feeling of not knowing who one is, you know? (a.k.a. “buy an identity.”) And the latter’s a core existential dilemma, so far as I’m aware (which capitalism would seek to claim to be able to solve). As such, it’s something that needs to really be examined, not evaded. If Shakyamuni were living now, I wonder what they would say about identity politics!
But I guess there’s true identity (for this lifetime; ultimate identity may be beyond my range at the moment, but so far as I know it is claimed to be the nature of enlightenment), and then there’s identity that one clings to in order to avoid the pain of not knowing who one actually is. This life’s actual identity doesn’t come without a lot of self-questioning and, for me at least, deconstruction. But the outcome of that process, for me, has meant that I haven’t had to take measures to, for example, change the way my body looks because it doesn’t look the same way as my spirit. Something in me has nullified the dysphoria I used to feel.
I’m not sure if it’s really the case, but I am kind of blaming my lack of gender transition (I’m physiologically female, by the way) on my life experiences as a multiracial kid. No matter what I do, others will not see who I am on the inside until they know me. And for me, at least, it’s safer for me to be able to conceal and then reveal that to the right people, than it is for me to show everyone without hesitation. On the inside, I am a really beautiful person. My outside doesn’t match what I would look like if I were to be visually intelligible in the language of the media, or if I had an animated character design, but I don’t think anyone’s really does. (and actually, I’d likely have more than one representation.)
The issues of sexism and racism and classism and ableism, etc…a lot of these stem from others just not seeing or recognizing who one is on the inside. It would seem that instead, a lot of people just see the outside and match it up with a stereotype and say, “I know you,” but they really don’t, and because they don’t reach any farther, they don’t find out they’re wrong until they see enough evidence that differentiates you from the stereotype. Upon which they are supremely happy, for who wants to be stuck in a world of stereotypes?
Or — and this is the sadder part — they see you as a stereotype, and because everyone sees you as the same stereotype, you begin thinking that you are that stereotype, and who you actually are gets buried under a lot of acting with the intent of reinforcing the stereotype and “claiming an identity.” That was me from about 16-23 years of age. But — the last decade has been a bit of a blossoming garden for me, so I’ve been able to grow in some ways that I can see some (most) others have not.
So yes. I suppose I can look back at the texts — Buddhist, Daoist, Japanese language, Art History, spirituality, fiction. And I can try and push myself to draw again. What is a “failed” image other than one never attempted? The third thing is that I can try and get back to writing one of these stories.
…I think I’ve written long enough. An hour and a half, yes? I wonder if WordPress will split this post into two pages. 😉