Every time I see teacher , I learn so much.
Most of all, I know that there is a lot of depth and message , a lot of fabric in the every dailiness of life that we often do not navigate, don’t know how to, or —simply don’t bother.
But if you take the time and effort, to nibble on these, life is just wonderful.
I told teacher about my recent trip to Japan, how filled it is in terms of the lessons I learned through the people I see, or don’t see.
I told him about my opportunity to film Saito and how it extended to a pottery master’s filming in Nara, and how I further stayed back to do Memories of Tsukiji.
I told him how and what happened at Shiro Tsuijimura, we went to the pottery master’s home in Nara. I told him how we sat cross legged on the wooden floor in the house he built, and how he served us lunch, how he ran out to get beer, how he chopped up beef and grilled it at the mini fireplace next to him. How he served us each thin slices dapped in in soy, how he made us matcha, all done with a smile on his face that seemed to, no, say——its okay, no matter what happens. Its a smile that is so wide and all encompassing, its a smile of acceptance of what has come and may come .
Anything also okay.
This is totally high level.
We had chatted earlier. He was a painter who found out about meditation in a temple. He stayed in a temple for a few years, then when he left, he switched paths and became interested in pottery.
He said its the process of pursuing meditation in pottery. He doesn’t see what he does as art, but the products—which we call art—are but the results of the process of mediation, that brought him peace.
And what did peace bring him?
“The realisation that one must live in the moment”
The (art) pieces that come out of the furnace, are left in nature, to receive nourishment from sun sand wind, …the whispers of nature and are allowed to mature .
Its seemed like art is finished in nature by nature, to return what is from nature to nature, a complete circle and like, whats right to.
When nature nurses it with a crack, its wonderful, when it gives the art something else, its wonderful as well.
Tsuijimura specifically says that he doesn’t want his pieces to be kept in a gallery or an art place. They just find their way in his home, everywhere. In his homestead he made out of a hill, there are about 6 to 7 workshops each housing a different art form, sometimes calligraphy, sometimes pottery, then there are pieces everywhere on the hill, on pathways, half buried in the ground. Tread somewhere and you’ll find, these tea bowls, reflecting the shigaraki
I shared with teacher, how Tsuijimura’s son turned out to be like his father. Living on another little homestead some 15min away, built his little house, has his little workshop and furnace, does his own art which seemed to be a mirror reflection of his father’s craft.
His father lives on in him, his body, his time, his life.
It brings me to how our children emulate us, and how we mirror our parents and ancestors. Life is a cycle, the children naturally become (us), because this is just what they know and they know not others.
I told teacher this has to be the best meal of my life, because of Tsuijimura’s sincerity and true heart. SO even if I didn’t know what he was talking about in Japanese, I could feel it in his spirit. There is nothing pretentious or contrived. And this is very very precious .
And teacher asked: so what does he remind you of?
I thought of the Dalai Lama, because of his smile, reminded me how the Dalai Lama smiled. But when teacher asked, I actually thought of my grandfather.
I remember sitting on grandfather and kissing him on his forehead, his nose, his cheeks, his chin. 5 times.
I think it must b the feeling of “being allowed” to do what I like.
I told teacher how —when I came to write about food, I begin to understand how I carried on grandfather.
Grandfather was a Tze char man who used to man a stall of his own outside Da Shi Jie, or Big World, and in those days, singers would finish their performance and eat at grandpa’s stall. There was not a lot of money in the house and a lot of kids to feed, so all his sons would have to help out at the stall. That was how all his sons came to cook better than their wives.
And teacher reminded me,” You see how similar you and your grandpa’s path is, you write and get to meet these a listers in entertainment, he cooks to meet them. Sometimes, our elders’ life can provide an inkling or provide us with a sense of direction as to the course we can chart in our time..“
I know little about grandpa ’s life, other than remembering his funeral which was a big thing then, how the daughters-in-laws would fold josspaper to burn and the sound and music of these big funeral processions would honestly still haunt me,
I just knew that he cooked v well and had signature dishes, and he smoked and could have passed on because of liver failure.
But what else?
Somehow, the idea of gambling came to mind.
Was it that?
Teacher encouraged me to find out. That would provide some hints to how our families turn out this way or provide an explanation to why I was fixated on the things that bothered me this way.
Then I told teacher about dining in J, a 3 star sushi place in Tokyo. I thought I was early as lunch is scheduled at 1230hrs, I was there at around 1215 but loitered outside the restaurant to have a look.
When we got in, it was around 1220hrs and we were told to wait, that made me curious, why do we wait?
Then one of the junior chefs came to say:” your lunch appt is at 12pm?”
I said 1230hrs. Then we were brought to sit down, what pursued didn’t give me a good feeling. J’s son who is helming the restaurant, didn’t serve me sushi all the time. He made my sushi, but left it on the chopping board, n his junior chef would then transport it to my plate. The rice was loose and every sushi had wasabi shot up the nose.
The balance was completely off.
One time, the ebi sushi had half the tail off the plate. Sushi wasn’t placed gently, it was harshly thrown on the plate.
I felt wrong, but swallowed it, thinking nothing wrong. At one point, I wanted to say, could you lower the wasabi? But I didn’t.
The sushis were finished under 30min and we were moved to another table to have honeydew, when I was halfway, I found a little hair on the honeydew.
I got a replacement, w ate, paid up and left. Outside, we met the junior chef who changed the honeydew for me, I reminded him that I’ll be coming back for my interview with J at 430pm. To which he said, there were no details of this interview, he is not aware and I should go back to the person who arranged this for me to doublecheck.
The interview is at 430pm and it is 1pm now. The interpreter is on her way and my crew needs to know too.
I finally got an answer at 4pm. That is—the restaurant is fully aware of the interview but this is but their way of rejecting me as I did not have a good experience in the restaurant.
I thought it was the honeydew but it was because I was late. And didn’t knew I was late. His son even thought that the hair on the honeydew was mine.
I thought how unprofessional this restaurant is. I m a paying customer who is late for at most 20min, but I didn’t think I deserve that treatment, interview or no interview aside.
I saw their rigidity but more so, how small their world is.
How can you treat me like that?
But teacher saw something else, he took a pillow and brought it in front of me, letting me express my anger. I beat the pillow n teacher said he saw more.
There were things related to my previous company.
He said.” How can you treat me like that? In front of my brother, you did not give me face. How dare you? Don’t you know who I m?”
He was egging me on to express my inner most thoughts.
I went on to sing this tune and let it off, I felt like slapping him and walking out of the restaurant , throwing the sushi on the floor.
But I slapped the pillow instead, the tears that came down were heavy and solemn.
I had been extremely outstanding as a child.
I was always the first few in class, when I progressed to junior college, I was the only 3 from my secondary school to go to Hwa Chong, even there I excelled.
But when times at home were bad, my morale just fell.
When I went to sph for internship, I never did expect I will get a scholarship. But when I graduated, ,one was the first batch they sent scholars to the evening papers and not ZB, where I felt I had s stronger resonance to.
I thought of the times when as a young reporter, I was always sidelined, because I wasn’t from ST or ZB. I was from Wanbao, and facing a strong veteran reporter as my counterpart.
What could I do?
When I had a chance, I did my best yet the credit was given to someone else. But life rescued me. When there was centralisation of the ops, I was the only one to head off to ZB life.
But there, I didn’t have a lot of gd time with a superior who couldn’t accept the strengths in me and always put me down.
Teacher was emphathetic, he could see how those experiences affected me adversely. He felt it crush me I guess, more than I felt for myself.
I told him I always felt I deserve something better, if not the best. I told him I was always the princess at home. My father loved me dearly.
I was chauffeured to school till I was 18years. My parents tried to give me the best when they could afford it. I remember my mother said that to me. My nanny gave me the best.
I deserve the best.
I asked teacher why——So why do I have to go thru this?
To which he said, “for everyone to progress on the spiritual path, he has to experience or be practised in all areas or aspects of life, it is not adequate to just be skilful in one aspect. Plus, imagine you skip all this, what is the person you will become? The princess you will be? ”
A princess built on nothing solid.
“These experiences fulfil you and show you the reality of life, things that you have to know are present.”
Whether I like it or not, choose to see it or not.
I told teacher this is my problems always chose to see things I want to see, happy things, beautiful ones, perfect ones, I find difficulty accepting the not-so-nice sides of life.
“So these experiences, like the sushi master, tell u, about reality, that there are indeed people out there, like this, who are harsh and not nice.
Look at what your experienced in Japan, you saw 2 very extreme ends of authority. On one side, you see the pottery master, who is zen like in his quest for life, nature nursed him and he returned his affection to nature with his processes. These things touch you, they resonated with parts of you, otherwise they would have gone thru you without leaving you any. And this is the path you want to be on, this you know.”
“Look at the sushi master. He represents the other extreme end of supremacy. He uses his ego to assert his position. ”
And the question that comes to mind——what is the kind of authority I want to be in my field? In my workplace? In my family? In my life?
i told teacher this is something I m trying to work on and work with. In so far as I see, the issue of authority has popped up so many times, wanting me to assert that I m an authority.
In fact in the case of the sushi incident, I was close to spilling out my anger as my authority is confronted.
I told teacher that I have always been afraid to voice out my true opinions and tended to go with the flow. Even if I have true vision of what can be done. But I have always held back my true words, not giving myself voice.
But I m indeed making baby steps to this and trying to change, letting my thoughts air and saying what I feel to contribute opinions.
Teacher asked me what I like to do in future?
To which I said, “In the past I worked on stories hoping to bring light or a spark to others, but now I find satisfaction in events that can come to life, and establishing platforms for masters int heir own field to speak and to affect, hence creating real tangible positive change in the right direction. ”
And which quality would you think will support you in this endeavour?
I need support from the universe, my boss my colleagues and most importantly, my family, my husband.
Teacher went to get me angel cards and encouraged me to draw one.
I got “Balance”.
I knew. Work life balance, family work balance, husband wife relationship balance, parent child balance. This is constant and v real issue in my life.
If I can find balance in almost every aspect of life, I should be able to get my vision accomplished.
I thank teacher as always, his sessions have always been downright insightful and brought me things I wouldn’t have known or thought of.