On race and belonging

On Between the Covers, poet and writer Claudia Rankine talks about the title of her book Citizen being in part about belonging. This is a theme that has been often on my mind since moving to Japan four years ago. Continue reading On race and belonging

Only connect

Today’s post will be a short one, to share this excerpt from Yiyun Li’s essay ‘Dear Friend From My Life I Write to You in Your Life’. She writes about a childhood friend who committed suicide shortly after they resumed their correspondence as adults. I think this is a beautiful reminder of the power of writing to connect. Continue reading Only connect

Life is short / Mid-life goals

In yesterday’s post I mentioned this article by Maria Popova. I’m glad I read it again. I needed to be reminded that I’m doing the right thing as I get ready to leave my job and move to a new city in a few weeks’ time. For months I’d been worrying about finding work. Then one day I decided to just stop stressing. And within the same week, found myself turning down three separate job opportunities. Continue reading Life is short / Mid-life goals

8 ways to calm your mind with numbers

When I’m stressed or worried about something, I find that counting or doing calculations in my head helps to redirect my thoughts. Numbers are also an easy way to quickly recall techniques that reduce anxiety. Here are a few examples.

Continue reading 8 ways to calm your mind with numbers

Double negative

Helen Verhoeven

Helen Verhoeven,The Waiting, oil on canvas (2014)

I’ve just finished reading Haruki Murakami’s first novel, Hear the Wind Sing. In it, one of his characters paraphrases this quote from F. Scott Fitzgerald:

The test of a first rate intelligence is the ability to hold two opposed ideas in the mind at the same time, and still retain the ability to function.

Continue reading Double negative

The beauty of uncertainty

Nothing is certain and nothing lasts. As Sogyal Rinpoche writes in The Tibetan Book of Living and Dying, ‘there is only one law in the universe that never changes – that all things change, and that all things are impermanent. This realisation of impermanence is the only thing we can hold onto.’ Continue reading The beauty of uncertainty

The art of saying what cannot be said

Koshiro Onchi Poem no 6 1948 woodblock

Koshiro Onchi, Poem No. 6, woodblock print (1948)

I’m currently reading Claudia Rankine’s Citizen and it has got me thinking about the ability of poetry to ‘describe the indescribable’, as Alan Watts puts it in his lecture ‘Buddhism as Dialogue’. ‘Poetry is the great language,’ he says. ‘It is the art of saying what cannot be said.’ Continue reading The art of saying what cannot be said

Entering

This is the poem that inspired the name of this blog. It reminds me of the feeling I get when I’m walking in a familiar area and look down a street I’ve often passed by before. Something catches my eye: a colourful mat hanging over a balcony ledge, a bush of hydrangeas or a line of trees at the end of the road. What’s behind them? I wonder. What else would I see if I walked down that street?  For me, that is how inspiration feels.  I like the idea of creating a world out of one black tree, and then letting it go. Continue reading Entering