Thursday, August 18, 2011

Patron saint

This is Daruma-san. Based on Bhodi-Dharma, Daruma meditated so long that his limbs just plain fell off. He can be knocked over, but he always just rolls back up. The kanji on his chest say "success."

He's a favorite patron saint of persistence in Japan. Often these dolls will be given as gifts, with both their eyes blank. When you start a project, you fill in one eye; when you finish the project, you fill in the second one.

Some friends of ours have gone into the business of making Daruma dolls. They offered them for sale at a recent festival in LA's Little Tokyo, where my wife took us for my birthday. Traditionally, the doll is red, but they made special "LA versions" that were yellow and purple. Purple being a favorite of mine, I decided to pick out a purple one. (He's much more purple in real life than in that photo.)

I went through every one they had. They all looked not "fierce," but angry. Really angry. I mean, I wanted to support our friends, but these Darumas, they were pissed at something. Really pissed.

Except one of them. I looked into his face, and I saw, "Yeah, I'm mad at what happened to me. But I'm still getting back up."

He's the one that came home with me. He sits in my studio right in front of me, right underneath my monitor. Yeah, he glowers, but not at me. He encourages me. He's completely aware of what happened to him. He's completely truthful about what he feels about it—it pisses him off.

And still, he's not going to stay down. He's getting up anyway. He's not doing it to "get back at" whatever got him down, he's not doing it for any other reason besides... dammit, he's getting back up. He just is.

A friend, and reminder, for us all.

Ganbatte. Persevere!

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