Body matters

Ghada Amer Green Paradise for bodies

Ghada Amer, Untitled,  acrylic, embroidery and gel medium on canvas (2008)

Every week I read a novel by a Japanese writer with my friend – in her case the original and in mine a translation. Recently we read The Lake by Banana Yoshimoto. The main character, Chihiro, is an artist who paints murals for a living.  She spends most of her time outdoors, engaging her whole body as she works. ‘I guess I’m one of those people who always thinks with her body,’ she says. Continue reading Body matters

The Big Leap

Hilma af Klint

Hilma af Klint, Evolution, Group VI, no. 12  (1908)

Most of us think we want to be happy, or at least free from suffering. But do we really? As Eckhart Tolle writes in The Power of Now, there is a ‘peculiar pleasure’ derived from being unhappy. Negative emotion can feel good. For example, anger produces a surge of energy that gives us the courage to take action. And then there is the quiet, pleasurable sadness we feel at the end of a sad movie or when parting from someone – the sense of things passing, known in Japanese as mono no aware (the poignancy of impermanence). Continue reading The Big Leap

Memories, moments and the middle way

Félix Vallotton, Le Ballon, oil on wood (1899)

I recently read a short story in which a woman tells her lover a terrible secret. “My mother died in a lake when I was a child,” she says. “And what did you do?” the lover asks. “I watched,” she says. “I stood there watching as my mother’s hair slipped gently under the surface of the water. I didn’t run to get help.” Continue reading Memories, moments and the middle way

Blogging lessons: 15 things I’ve learned so far

my desk

Today I read over some my favorite quotes and pieces of advice from writers on writing, and decided to put them all together in a list of the things I’m learning from writing this blog, to refer to whenever I start going off track. Continue reading Blogging lessons: 15 things I’ve learned so far

How I changed my habits and changed my life

Daily rituals, routines, habits. Lately this seems to be a popular point of discussion. Up until about a year ago, though, I hadn’t given much thought to my habits, other than when I was trying to break a bad one. But since I’ve started to form new habits, my life has changed significantly, for the better. Continue reading How I changed my habits and changed my life

Solitude, belonging and freedom

zoe 2

Zoe Leonard, Chapter 17 from Analogue, chromogenic colour prints (1998–2009)

In Yiyun Li’s story ‘On the Street Where You Live’, a six-year-old boy with autistic tendencies is asked to name the one thing that scares him most. Unlike the other children in his class, who mention things like snakes or monsters under the bed, his answer is monophobia – the fear of being alone. And yet he’s chosen not to speak to most people, and struggles to connect with those closest to him. Continue reading Solitude, belonging and freedom

Love, Tokyo

kumi dream

Kumi Obata, Refreshing dream, etching (2007)

Early on a summer morning, the park is a magical place. On the way there, I pass other early risers along the river pathway. Dog walkers, joggers, a man facing the water with his stand and sheet music set up, strumming a guitar and playing the harmonica as one foot taps out the rhythm. In the field across from him some boys kick around a soccer ball while a group of elderly people practice tai chi beneath the trees.

I walk under the railway bridge and enter the park, where the river opens out into a large pond. On my iPod, Maria Callas is singing an aria by Saint-Saëns. It begins to rain, and I feel my heart soar with the beauty of her voice and the trees and water, and gratitude that I am here. Continue reading Love, Tokyo

On sharing

Noako

Naomi Okubo, Greeting card from Paradise, acrylic on cotton cloth (2016)

I hesitated for some time before making this blog public. And every time I’ve posted something since. Then I came across this passage in Rebecca Solnit’s collection of essays, The Faraway Nearby: Continue reading On sharing

A monument to Unsatisfied Desire

clarice-lispector

‘The “ever after” of passion tastes like a stubbed out cigarette.’

In Brazilian writer Clarice Lispector’s ‘Letter to Hermengardo’, the writer, Idalina, advises her reader about desire, the tendency to seek after pleasures, and the pain this brings. Continue reading A monument to Unsatisfied Desire