Monday, January 9, 2012

Attention getters

For me and my wife, the New Year really starts not with the Tournament of Roses parade (whose famously-televised turn is not at all that far away from where we live), but with the Kotohajime festival, in Los Angeles's Little Tokyo. All sorts of performers share their own special gifts... dancers, musicians, always from many cultures, and always from differing cultures. But the most beautiful moment is the shooting of the First Arrow by Kosaka-sensei, the grand master of kyudo in the LA area.

I miss kyudo. I haven't used the bow in a while, because the bow kinda "pushes back" at you when you draw it, and I'm already way too easy to knock over right now. You know, by doing such things as ... standing up.

But both Kosaka-sensei and my own teacher, Rick-shishou (who is Kosaka-sensei's student), each said that they knew of people in Japan who are practicing kyudo from wheelchairs. This is very interesting, even to a fully ambulatory kyudo student, because one of the ways you know that your draw is being done correctly is that you can feel the force traveling from the bones in your bow-hand to the bones in your opposite foot—which I have felt myself, not as often as I'd like but still I've felt it; and it's quite glorious, and somehow quite spooky at the same time. And not having the infrastructure that proper stance provides has been one of the things that has kept me away from the bow.

But Rick-shishou said that he would look into the "chair form" for me, encouraged me to keep up the tote-renshu (barehanded practice), and invited me to come to class again, walker-bound though I be. What I can do, he'll help me with, and however I can execute the form, I should; and whatever state I'm in, he'll teach me.

This, for me, is big. Very big. A very large, and very clear, message from the Universe: that limitations, even ones I can't escape, limit specific things. But they don't limit me. They limit specific things that I try to do, or used to do, or want to do, but now they limit me so I can't do them. But the things they don't limit... they don't limit.

So... why should I help these limitations to limit more than their own nature enables them to limit?

Japanese culture has an interesting concept of "firsts;" the "first" anything has special importance. And every year, Kotohajime celebrates a different "first." The theme of Kotohajime this year was Hatsu Kaze.

First wind.

And later this month, it's Chinese New Year; the year of the Dragon. This year, it's the year of the Water Dragon; and Water is an Element that is infinitely accommodating, yet also irresistibly powerful. Water easily flows around any obstacle; and yet, it was gently flowing water that patiently yet inexorably cut its way through the desert to create the Grand Canyon. Water is fog; water is mist; water is steam; water is a crushing wave; and yet, no mater how it expresses itself, its substance never changes.

The Universe is definitely trying to get my attention.

Like M.S. wasn't enough... I'd better start listening, eh? Who knows what it'll try next, if I don't get the hint this time...

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