July 27, 2009

Dear Diary, where is all the zen?

Thank you for your kind messages and comments... let me explain my current excuse for not being the perfect blogger...

I have been busy. I know, I know, you are too...but, please allow me to whine a bit.

4days of work, 1 day off, 5 days of work, 1 day off, and now I am getting ready for a week of
6 days of work to be followed by...

1 day off....

And work hasn't been all that great. Lots of people whining about stuff that really isn't THAT important.

Why do people threaten librarians? They must have a very difficult life if venting on me makes them feel better.... But does it REALLY make them feel better?

When you are angry and let that anger persist, all it does is consume your energy.
I really don't think it is worth it.

So...while I was being hollered at for not having a particular book at the library (it is not in my power to do anything about very sorry), I decided to meditate.

Right in the middle of being hollered at...I straightened up my back, set my chin straight, looked directly at the hollerer and said....
"yes, I understand" ... repeatedly like a mantra.

I sort of zoned in by zoning out and freaked out the hollerer. hehehe

But this made me think about what the rest of the world thinks about the Japanese people.

Quiet, subdued, polite, tranquil, zen-like....what do you think?

Of course, like any other nation there are stereotypes and much more. You can't really label a whole people, can you?

I have met some angry people over the past couple of months and they have made me wonder...what happened to the mild mannered Japanese?

So, I made comfort food (which is an amazing feat for me)
Pumpkin soup, mushroom, eggplant and goya pizza with marinated beans and peppers...
and I called my mom.
According to her it was all an illusion from the beginning. "Foreigners think Japanese people are polite because Japanese tend to cram their bad attitudes into the closet when they are with foreigners. They are afraid of being disgraced. But with each other, Japanese can be rude, harsh....mean."

My mom has never really liked her own people that much.

So, I thought I would think about it myself.

Maybe it has nothing to do with nationality.

Maybe it's me.

I can't cope with being around angry people. They make me angry for making me uncomfortable.
I'd like to fight back but I know that that is like "oil on a fire"(hi ni abura wo sosogu) will just make matters worse.

Or maybe it's the Moon...
The total eclipse on page 1 in all the newspapers....(evening papers from the 22nd of July).

But then again, maybe someone stole the zen from Japan.

Maybe there is some kind of zen sucking vampire on the loose. In that case, I will guard my "peace of mind" with my life! I don't care if the vampire turns out to look just like Robert Pattinson... it will not suck anything from me.... except a little excess fat wouldn't be minded at all ;-)

To keep my mind from collapsing....
...on this very treasured day off, I am still waiting to hear when my next job interview is... while I read....

and meditate/yoga, and do a bit of shodo, Japanese style...
in the lower right hand corner is the kanji for the word "light" (hikari光)...I have made a mix between kanji and the alphabet in the center.

Here is a more simple one for "dream" (yume夢) ...

(There is an amazing shodo artist named Kunishige Tomomi. I can't find an official website but there was one example of her work for the word "festival" (matsuri) over here.)


I am also working on my next "i-ro-ha" series. The next character is "chi"... and will include words like

chyouchin (lantern) ...'tis the season for lanterns and summer festivals in Japan.
My search to find the lost zen will continue...


Delwyn said...

Hello Tulsa

The book 'Geisha' that I am reading talks about the seen and the unseen Japanese manners...the restraint in public, the decorum, and etiquette, and the change when men are liberated by alcohol...

But as to your problems at work. I had a similar time when I was in a different environment and all I could see and experience were rude people, then one day I asked myself if this what was I expected to see, did it somehow fit my preconceived assumptions and I decided to make a difference, and I think it worked. The other people don't change unless we change...both in our perceptions and in the way that we treat them...

There are always rude people out there , stressed for a myriad of reasons, but maybe we can make a difference in their lives by demonstrating 'zen'...

Happy days

Delwyn said...


The word was


I wonder if they are wankers without manners?

I_am_Tulsa said...

Delwyn, I am hoping that you are right and that there is some way I can improve myself to help others. There are a lot of restrictions as to what I can say to people at work but I would like to find a "nice" way of either saying or projecting "silence".

I'll work on it and keep you posted on my progress;-)

I love

J A Harnett-Hargrove said...

Hi, When I think Japan I think Bushido and the Samurai--very feudal of me, I know. Must be the costumes and Toshiro Mifune! Love the zen, love the DREAM piece. -Jayne

I_am_Tulsa said...

Jayne, Mifune Toshiro is a good guy to choose when you visualize Japan! I'm afraid I haven't met any samurai though...
By the way, I love your books!

Frances said...

Hello Tulsa,
It is so good to see this post. As a shop manager (in continuing strange economic times) I can relate to what you have written.

I also try not to generalize, also come in contact with abrasive, rude people, and pressure that is not of my own making. It is always my goal to find some tiny bit of peace and quiet to enter at these moments.

Sometimes I succeed, sometimes ... not so much!

Your preparing comfort food seems a very good idea. Your mother's words also are full of good sense.

Best wishes to you!

I_am_Tulsa said...

Thank you Frances! I know that I need to change myself to change my is full of new things to learn...thank you.

Bonnie, Original Art Studio said...

Well Tulsa, I think you were very zen when you decided to meditate in the middle of their tirade. It is very hard to be rude to someone who is not being rude/angry back. You decided not to "engage" and as they threw their verbal assaults - you just calmly stepped aside.

I always told my kids, that just because someone throws a ball toward you does not mean you have to catch it. If it is an angry "ball", or a put-down "ball" - don't catch it - just step aside.
Good on you! That's what you did. Perhaps next time you will want to avoid picking up the ball after, and taking it home with you. :) I know, much easier said than done.

I_am_Tulsa said...

Bonnie, I agree about not taking home the ball!

It was something I thought about before posting this particular thought... I ended up posting it because I have been wondering about how Japanese society has changed in so many ways and yet yearns to stay "exotic and unique" at the same time...

I'm not angry and I wasn't when I posted this but I admit that I was drained...but I have been able to replenish my energy through all of my hobbies and looking at all the great blogs including yours!
Thank you for your wisdom, your kids have a great role model!

Lori ann said...

dear tulsa,

the zen is in you dear. what a delightful post. you always make me so happy, when i read you i realize i am smiling.

i would have done just like you, breathe, chant, smile, protect myself, anger scares me. i would have made yummy food too, i love what you did! your dishes look delicious.

i LOVE your Shodo! if i had that i would put it in a frame, it is art.

and i guess you may be on to something with the japanese and the idea of an illusion, but isn't that what most everything(if not everything) is anyway? i think people are people and i don't like to makes me sad that so many people put down americans (and in the blogland americans say the most)when it is not true with me and most people i know.

i hope you will have more time soon and not be working so much!


Butternut Squash said...

Dear Tulsa,

I admire your ability to 'Zen' in the moment. It's not any easy thing to do.

I checked out Kunishige Tomomi, incredible.
I love your calligraphy too.

Your dinner looks great. I will have to remember to invite myself to dinner at your place.


I_am_Tulsa said...

Butternut Squash, thank you!

I'll try to find more about Kunishige to post but she has recently had her second baby and I think, is taking a break from her art...I hope she starts creating again soon.

Oh, you are invited to my place anytime!... but don't forget to bring the Pepto-Bismol!

B said...

Oh, Tulsa, I'm sorry you have to deal with angry people. When I used to work as a sales assistant, I had to deal with lots of angry people, and I realize it wasn't about me, but about them!
When I think of Japan, I think about very cool and innovative people and gadgets, I've just realized my first thought is not about tradition or zen..

I_am_Tulsa said...

B! It is nice to know that you thought of innovation and gadgets! Much MUCH more the "real" Japan! Although...the gadget that I want the most i-phone! lol

Thanks to all the angry people, I think I am a bit stronger than before. I used to be easily frightened or easily caught up in the anger but know I can sense my own heart beating faster and try to calm down during the chaos. I would not have been able to do that or even be aware that it was possible without all those angry people! ;-)

I bet you are much stronger too! So yeah! for us and hopefully those angry people will be able to find peace in their lives!

Polly said...

Oh I know what you mean about angry people! I can't work with them either. That's why my customer service skills are so poor, I'm not great working with people, someone always gets angry in the end.

Perhaps that's why I love living in the UK. People are quite mildly mannered here.

I love your Japanese pizza, great choice of comfort food.

Jelica said...

Good luck with that interview next week (you mentioned it in Delwyn's comment box :)--hopefully you won't have to deal with angry people any more...

I_am_Tulsa said...

Polly, I like my pizzas too! I REALLY want to go to the UK and check out the sights AND the people!

Jelica, thank you! I hope so too!

Ms. K @ Write On Thyme said...

Good for you for meditating right in the middle of the "angry ball" coming at you! What better way to fight anger coming at you than to fill yourself with light! And thanks for sharing the eclipse photos! I think the first comment rings true: Must look at ourselves and how we can radiate what we want from others!

I_am_Tulsa said...

Kirsten, Thank you! It is becoming easier and easier for me to stay calm under pressure...a lot of it is capable because of all the awesome support I have been getting from everyone!
The eclipse was pretty neat (as I saw on TV...)!

Cyndy said...

Dear Tulsa, I trust this note is reaching you now days from that angry moment and moving on. Especially with books to entertain and your beautiful Shodo for an outlet. "Light" and "Dream." Very nice thoughts and beautifully expressed.

In the same vein as other comments, my thing to remember when others are being angry or rude is what Eleanor Roosevelt said (and I say quite often to my kids): "Someone cannot make you feel bad unless you give them permission." This is especially hard for teenagers to digest, but a great lesson once it is learned. I believe it goes with the angry thing, too, for some people are just miserable and they want to make others feel the same. Sometimes a simple smile can crush them. They could not recognize your Zen for they are blocked with negative energy. I can feel your Zen and I am half way around the world from you! Keep it positive and keep sharing!

I_am_Tulsa said...

Cyndy, thank you for that quote!

I quite agree... although it is sometimes hard I think I am getting better at it!

It seems to be a matter of catching myself before I get angry too. If I can stop before I react then I can "let go of my ego" and not worry about how that person sees me or how I see them... I can concentrate on how I see myself.

thank you so much for feeling my energy and for sharing yours!

all the best!

Carol @ TheWritersPorch said...

Hey Tulsa! Let me just come over there and give those folks my Mississippi evil Eye! :)
No really people seem to be so unhappy all over the world these days.It is getting hard to find people who really have great easy going attitudes. I come across this sometimes even though I'm a virtual recluse. When I do I just smile, walk away and thank God I'm not that person!

Chiara.u said...

Hi Tulsa! Sorry for this bad, angry people... I'm afraid sometimes I use to be angry with no reason... but rarely with other people! Or better, never with others... I really do get angry at most with myself... and I feel it's no good and try to "meditate" (i do it my way of course!!). It's so good to feel happy and quiet and I'm trying not to spend energy to be angry anymore... At the moment I think I must re-study english language again... I don't know how I've written this time!!! Have a nice day (I love the image of you meditating against angry people!!!) and be patience, if you can :)
Love, Chiara!

I_am_Tulsa said...

Carol! Thank you so much! The evil eye makes me scared and laugh at the same time!

Chiara, thank you for your kind words! Your English is fine!!! I have been learning a lot about myself lately and patience seems to be something I am getting better at!

Anonymous said...

just discovered your blog here and will be back to read more when time permits. but for the moment, this post was most entertaining and delightful- love your dream calligraphy!

i think you had a most perfect response and nice of you to post your experience here for others to make note of and remember when we find ourselves in such a predicament.

i don't often work with the public (solo studio artist/maker) and when i do it is generally in a setting where people are in happy and creative moods so there is little unhappiness there.

i also liked your shot of the moon's eclipse from the newspapers...

I_am_Tulsa said...

shiborigirl, thank you for stopping by! I hope you will be able to visit again and thank you so much for your kind words!