‘Must-do Lists’ – ‘Top 10 things to do’ – ‘Unmissable tours / views / restaurants / galleries /shops / bars’ …
No-one can do everything – not even in one’s own city …
So why the urge regardless?
Because it’s easy.
‘Everything’ is determined by ‘everyone’ … else. No personal responsibility needed.
“You have to do X” – “Don’t miss Y” – “We had the best time at Z”
Everyone has an opinion.
But the only opinion that has any real impact on my life is mine.
I want to say that I am better at following personal preference – but I’m not sure that I am.
I get swept away by the tide that I find myself in …
Many times – but not always.
I’m writing this, sitting in damp stone steps leading to a small shrine on Miyajima Island.
Others are focussed on climbing to the ropeway.
Some are taking pictures as they go; cameras on a 45 degree angle from the base of my stairs for 10 seconds or less.
No-one has ventured up.
It’s peaceful – dense in temperature … and history.
I don’t particularly want to go on the ropeway – the peak is clouded over and I’m enjoying myself where I am.
I’m meant to be where I am.
For me, ‘better’ implies that it is not good now. That, for right now, there are flaws that can be immediately rectified (and that possibly should have been identified previously).
There’s a hint of blame in ‘better’.
‘Best that it can be’ takes factors into account. It allows imperfection. It has faith that there has been real and honest work.
Evolution will happen. Growth will happen. ‘Best that it can be’ …with an inferred additional clause … ‘for right now‘
No blame. Acceptance of reality and an understanding, and encouragement, of constant change.
Most of the time, they soften the angles of life …
Just occasionally though, their institution provokes the crystal realisation that there is no acceptable substitute.
What do I think of this temple?
What do I see? What do I sense? What do I hear? What do I smell? What do I taste?
I am a tourist who wants to be termed ‘curious’.
I came because it is the oldest zen temple Kyoto. As a result, this temple was on my list of ‘must dos’ (‘must’ being defined by me, with reference to what others would think of me if I did not make this visit)
I stayed because I was tired of walking. I paid the entry fee for the same reason.
I remain here, and I write here, because I want to better understand my sense of connection to this location.
I am writing overlooking a zen garden; a square, circle and triangle; the three shapes the offer the foundation for every other shape on earth … according to the garden’s creator.
It is not ‘pretty’… it soothes the ‘self’.
Why this sense of calm?
Is there an element that is actually calm-inducing – or is there a perception that a zen-temple will be calm-inducing – the perception being all that is necessary for the realisation of calm?
Is perception as important as reality? Does perception create reality?
Two reasons – two audiences …
- For ourselves : to capture a moment in time and preserve it.
- For others : to evidence our presence in that moment.
But a foundational why still exists – why do we feel the need to capture and preserve?
Where does the urge come from?
In a world of constant reminders to ‘capture’ it could be argued that we have been ‘marketed’ into it …
New verb – freshly coined : to be encouraged to the point of involuntary action by a marketing campaign.
… but is this merely the modern equivalent of tracing a hand – scratching a cross in the sand – hacking initials into a tree?
Our desire to make marks existed long before our ability to upload …
We make marks, therefore we are.
Instinct-driven anticipatory speed … a recognisable beat-per-second increase.
Steadying – calculation of height, depth, width, risk – calculation of the unknown.
This will hurt.
Anticipation – chest-constricting fear – anxiety … psychological uncomfort – physical discomfort.
You’ll be fine.
Steadying – recognition of an insistent inner voice offering a safer alternative. Then …
Don’t think – just do.
A politeness – an acknowledgement of each man present.
Greetings; time spent and time expected.
Van arrival. Four old men – clean gloved, ironed work pants, comfortable shoes and hats that were bought decades ago by wives or children in celebration.
Breeze rustle and morning song; hands on hips – soft-toned discussion.
Pause – reflection.
Wooden boards pulled – joining ute trailer and ground. Cement mixer dating to their childhoods. Rolled down, and then across. Then…
Bridge-sitting – next steps.
A young man – purposeful – workwear with helmet. Speed limiting eye contact.
Time-bound, he passes four men on a bridge.
No acknowledgement. No pause. No reflection.