Tag Archives: life

Baggage and garbage … rhyme

Like most people I grew up with “baggage”.

My mother used to rave on about the greatness of Chinese culture/civilisation. True there are some things which are admirable about it. But like everything else there are unsavory parts to it as well.

Recent Chinese history is not something I can praise. In fact the opposite. The underhanded way in which China (HK and clampdowns in postcovid) has craved for world domination is ugly. Equally, the West (particularly No. 45) is no better. And Japan has its unseen side (Abe and the Moritomo affair) also.

In short, baggage is not culturally or ethnically based (as if it ever really was). Everybody, and I mean everybody, is trying to force their opinion on to you. We are by nature like this.

So to try to live a life where I do not throw my opinion out there is near impossible. That is why I had chose to be a monk once. We want to escape from it, not be a part of it. The Amish and Luddites have tried. Brazilian tribes to hide in the forests. But in the end, isolation is unattainable or unsustainable. The world is not a series of enclosed bubbles. And if it is, it is as fragile as soap.

For all the baggage we try to throw out and discard it remains like garbage in a landfill.

Avoiding transmission situations and route

‪If #covid19 has asymptomatic transmission then the only thing we can do cut the chance of exposure with masks and general avoidance with people. Respiratory exhalation (talking and singing) seems to increase likelihood of transmission. ‬

Japan is a culture where talking (socialising) seems far lower than the West, and could be one reason for lower transmission rates. Certainly, physical contact is not the cultural norm. I doubt I would physical come into contact more than once a day with people I live or work with. This is a cultural thing not an expression thing. Love or any other expressions of feeling are done in other ways.

Killing two birds with one stone – good ol’ fashion labour

I have been riding a bicycle everyday for about three weeks now. I hadn’t gotten exercise for a couple years and I was getting out of breathe just by climbing two flights of stairs. But now the stairs are easy and my body recovers quickly.

Modern life is the opposite of fitness. Everything is made to make things easier. And for this easiness one has to exercise instead. Is this not double the work. Should not the things we do in life be also pet of your fitness. Should it not require effort so as to help maintain your fitness.

Isn’t doing things the long way really a way to kill two birds with one stone?

It is true though I cannot always do manual labour. White collar work is simply too static that one needs to do exercise outside of the labour. Unless I can incorporate physical work into teaching (without being sued for slavery) I have no choice but to bike.

But biking is not so bad. it is definitely fun. And it is a change in scenery to my indoor existence.

On Music

1.
We are surrounded by culture, that is, we are surrounded by people. In various ways we express ourselves, and we recognise these expressions. We express ourselves because we recognise others will recognise our expression. Communication is a vicious or un-vicious circle, depending on who you ask. And music is but one of the many ways of expressing ourselves as human beings.

2.
I wasn’t born in the eighth-century. I wasn’t even born in the 19th century. My time is the late-twentieth-century. I heard disco. I heard new wave. I heard pop. I listened to post-punk. I clubbed. I read Smash Hits and Face. I even read iD and watched a bit of Top of the Pops. I didn’t have complete control of my musical environment. I took in what was there. This was what was there.

Musical “taste” is different for everyone. No two people have the exact same music experience. Like everything else, we must necessarily see things differently. My favourite song can only come from what I have heard. We can try to have as wide a music experience as possible but we can never have the entire music experience. It isn’t even worth trying, unless you do so as a professional. I cannot imagine the knowledge of someone like Ryuichi Sakamoto or Mozart. My knowledge of music is limited to pleasure.

3.
As I said, my Top 10 songs can only come from what I have heard, what I know. And sometimes it is not worth expanding your knowledge.

Think of your musical knowledge as objects filling a room. At some point not much more can fit into it. We loathe to throw these things out. They “do the job”. They bring joy and sometimes sadness. Anger even. They belong to the history of me, the owner of this room.

Sometimes someone asks you to listen to this or that. But I already have the love songs to remind me of long past romances and present loves (plural because love is not for one but many: wife, child, parents). The newly introduced song, without sounding cold, means nothing to me. It reminds me of no one (except for the introducer) and no time except (for the present). But that song must mean everything to that introducer. And that song is all that matters. That is his or her song.

My room is filled. That person’s room may not be. He or she may be only starting to fill theirs. And yet others like you may also have filled rooms like yours. Finding people with similar rooms is a near impossible and almost futile task.

4.
Sometimes I would like to take out a particular song and play it. But why I chose that song to play is never clear. But once it starts it would bring back memories of the past, of people, places, and time. The associations are specific to me. It is immediately clear in the sense that I enjoy those memories, but would require much explanation to all others who do not have privileged access. That is the meaning of being me, and the meaning of others.

5.
Temptation by New Order.

Forty years have passed. But the days I would listen to this song are vivid to me, at least the general atmosphere, light, feelings. Joy. Discovery. Freedom. It is by no means a great song, but it reminds of all those things mentioned and more. It reminds of my friend to whom I had played it and it please me that he liked it too. That feeling is all that matters and mattered. And as I listen to it now as I write this, those same feelings return.

I will stress again this point – it doesn’t matter who has heard or likes the song, only what it means to you. The link to the past is so important that everything else matters not. Perhaps if you take that link away the song will no longer have that power over me.

In some ways it would be a mental assault. Reality would be changed in a way which would hurt greater than perhaps physical pain. This point I cannot confirm but only imagine to be so. Even imagining this now is painful and it has not even happened. Such is the intensity of music, and of experience in general.

The Japanese nengajō (New Year’s cards)

Every year in December in Japan people are preparing for the New-Year’s-card rush – the nengajō. Most people select a design from one of the various apps on their laptops, or more recently their smart devices, and print them up on their printers. It is a survival skill that rivals, if not top, that of word processor skills. A nengajō is a postcard designed especially for the year’s end. It has the year it with a lottery included. The omote (front side) has the names and addresses of the addressee and addresser. The ura has the design.

There are various styles, but the most basic ura design is one without photos. The Japanese follow the Chinese zodiac calendar which is in a cycle of twelve years with each year having an animal (apart from the Year of the Dragon) to represent it. 2019 happens to be The Year of the Boar. So most people incorporate a boar in the design. Those which include photos ones which show the entire family.

The apps generally have an address list function to help you keep track and print up both sides of your card.

Here are some tips (in no particular order) for being a “nengajō warrior”:

  1. give yourself a couple of days to the nengajō
  2. keep the cards received from the previous year as reference (and burn the old ones at a new years event at a shrine as a sign of respect to the sender)
  3. keep your address list up-to-date
  4. backup your address list
  5. take at least one photo with the entire family in it sometime in the year (if you choose to include a photo)
  6. print the omote side first (it uses less ink in case of a mistake)
  7. check everything before printing bulk
  8. stock up on printer ink
  9. if you worried about privacy don’t use a photo (all cards show name and address)

This should get you started if you are new to this Japanese custom. Enjoy.

If you want more detailed information check out these pages by Fukuoka Now and Savvy Tokyo.

 

One reality

It would be nice if tomorrow I would woke up and a different US president was in the White House. But because there is one reality I have to be content and continue with it.

It would also be nice if I woke up tomorrow morning to find I am a world famous scholar with three important books on my resume. Again, that would not be the case. I must work for those. Sigh.

5 reasons I choose not to talk about politics

I choose not to talk about politics because

  1. it generally does not change the outcome of elections, especially elsewhere
  2. it fuels so many unnecessary arguments
  3. I do not understand everything in politics (nor do I want to)
  4. I feel politicians never work for the benefit of the people … no matter what they say
  5. this is what The Buddha had meant by Right Speech
  6. [bonus reason] there are other more important things to worry about in this 13-billion-year-old universe with my less-than-hundred-year long lifespan.

Time to shut up. I have said too much about politics already.

Trade offs

Chess is like life: the trade offs are never one-to-one and never black and white. Sometimes they are similar trade offs. At other times they can be for material, temporal or positional advantages.

Waste not a single moment

Chess is like life: you must not waste time and start to prepare from the very first move. If you get behind you may find it hard to catch up later.

SNS and real life

Most people tend to forget that SNS is a part of (modern) life, and should be dealt with in the same way as life.

What you wouldn’t do in real life you shouldn’t do on SNS either. This should be a general rule of thumb.

Don’t do to others what you don’t want them to do to you is another rule.

Death

Death is both hideous and wonderful.

It is hideous in that those left behind grieve of their loss. Their love is what brings pain. And we can do nothing but love.

It is wonderful in that it unselfishly gives way to new life. The world is a finite space. We must all eventually stand up and give our seats to others more needy of it.

So death should be a brief moment of sadness and a lifetime of joy. It should not consume you, the one remaining. It should give you the will to continue to do your best, to not waste even a single beat of the precious drum commonly known as The Heart.

the sure bet

death
is not such a scary thing
not completely unexpected
it happens to everyone
it is the sure bet

so why do we fear it
it’s as natural as birth
to be born is
to be guaranteed a death

a wise man once said
‘what is unborn cannot die’
how wonderful it is, then
to be born and not live forever

because how boring
would life be
as beckett put it, to be
waiting for godot

There Is No Guarantee

Three pieces of news has made me think about existence – the news of the death of the great kabuki (a form of traditional Japanese play) actor Ichikawa Danjuro, the death of three Japanese tourists in Guam, and the explosion of a meteor over Russia.

Truly, there is no guarantee you will be alive by the end of the day, or even the end of this minute.

To take this a step further there is even no guarantee that you would have been brought into the world in the first place.

Think about that.

The thing about inconveniences …

… is that it ultimately gives one a better perspective of the world.

Last night I posted on my Facebook Wall about the beauty of the stars in a clear sky. And this morning I continued the story with an update about how clear the morning night sky was again. This prompted a  friend of mine to comment how she wished she had the luxury of looking at the stars like me.

But what she and probably everyone else don’t realize was that I wasn’t actually delibrately going outside to look at the night sky but rather I was doing the mundane task of putting in the laundry into the washing machine in our creaky old country outhouse. I do it every night before I sleep at nine (put on a six-hour-later timer so that we use the off peak electricity, of course), collect and hang it up just after five in the morning. So all I had done was look up at the night sky as I made the trip there and back.

It isn’t the romantic country lifestyle as everyone seems to think. That is what is so great about darkness. They are like “alcohol goggles” (that is, being drunk): you can forget about reality and enjoy the sheer beauty of the dark clear night sky. But it all comes crashing back to earth when you enter your artificially lit home and see yourself in your run down PJs in the mirror.

As I said it isn’t a romantic lifestyle but it is an ideal one, one that makes me happy and feel closer to nature. And I wouldn’t give it up for the world. At least that is what I feel at the moment. Because if it wasn’t for this lack of convenience of not having space for a washine machine in our house I wouldn’t have seen that beautiful sky, or notice the natural rhythm – night after night – of the world that is beyond the psychological and physical walls which surround me.

The answer to life and everything is … 8.7 million

That is how many species there are on the planet.

At least this is the best estimate we have, plus or minus one million.

Of these only 1.2 million have been described, most of which are of land lifeforms. This equates to 14% of land life and 9% of ocean life that we have a name for.

We really know very little about ourselves and our planet.