Japan, and the way of Zen, had a profound effect on me. I had seen how the absence of a thing creates meaning, of the thing itself. I sat on the sidelines of a sand pit, with rocks in it, and this gave me a very meaningful experience - I got in touch with something within myself that was a part of the bigger world around me.. and this experience made me realize how connected I am to everything without actually owning it or having a formal relationship with it, or even an intellectual understanding of it. It was the absence of everything that we expect to give us a worthwhile experience ( in the west ). I returned to the sand pit several times. And went on to other similar gardens around Kyoto and had several days of uninterrupted near bliss which i have not had the capacity to explain as I am not a Buddhist and this wasn't a religious experience, I didn't have any crutches to stand on.
Around a year after the trip to Japan I decided to sell and donate most of my possessions and move to New York City. I had built a substantial cache of things and had a pretty lifestyle, this is all i want to say about it. The possessions that surrounded me had started to take a large amount of my time and resources. all required not only dusting, regular care and space to inhabit - they needed use. It means I had to sit around playing with my possessions to put them to good use or find them storage, organize them properly and so on. Imagine the amount of time it takes to properly care for a house full of stuff. Sounds like a lifetime.
Now I don't really recommend doing a big shed unless you are properly motivated. Short of putting on a robe or having another"proper" context - it is hard to explain or relate such a move to anyone. At the time I wanted to find self-worth beyond what I had, and beyond my commercial work. I found that with being constantly fed a program i had atrophied my own capacity for self-motivation and self-tasking which is essential for independent artists. I left my apartment in San Francisco and moved to a small room in Harlem. Till this day i only feel relief and not a single drop of regret or doubt.
What does it mean? Nothing, it really has no meaning to anyone or no purpose beyond what it really was - i did my first hand drawing in this room and because I had no distractions whatsoever and no other model - a whole body of work emerged focused on my personal space.
I often come back to the big shedding of things as it was really fascinating to watch all the stuff go. Each object I sent away had a connection to my life and held a string to a particular event or reflected on a particular experience. None was trivial, I always felt an object had a permanent bond to their owner on account of us being blobs and constantly absorbing molecules from our surroundings. Thus emerged the what I call "I Have Everything project". There was no intent for any of it to become any sort of project, simply had to photograph each item for either craigslist or ebay.. at different times, both in San Francisco and New York city.
Saks Fifth Avenue evening gown I wore to the Met opera, complete with box seats ( if you have ever shown up to the met overdressed and all eyes are on the gown and the bare back ), unforgettable moment which I never repeated. Since, I have always gone to the Opera in jeans and a jacket, standing room only. In fact the standing room area at the Met Opera is the most fun as you have often a reason to get a conversation going with others on the railings. The gown went on ebay.
My Tae-Kwon-Do gear. Had to question every single thing I was taught, and the whys outweighed the dos. Eventually realized I cannot be completely conscious and kick or hit another human.. Loved the color of the yellow belt.
Tae Kwon Do was not a trivial or trifle experience, I learned much about it and what creates a mastery of movement. The same thing that creates mastery in anything - practice. Once you have practiced poomse 10,000 times - you become one with motion, with the air around it and enter a zone of being. Never became Jackie Chan but appreciated him more. along with the doing I needed questions answered and a meaning built around it that I could't find in kicking itself, although i enjoyed it physically. I loved kicking paddles, not humans. The favorite lesson form Tae Kwon Do was the fact that my teacher, Mr K, always said commit the kick vs simply saying "kick" it. Commit the kick to me contained the whole philosophy of martial arts which is repetition and becoming one with air. Or with chairs as is the case with Jackie, it is an Art form after all.
This set got left i believe on the streets of Brooklyn. Perhaps I still have the belt.
The trusty jetta got donated to KQED. Bay Bridge, 101 taught me to appreciate audiobooks. I learned a bit of Japanese in this car, mostly during San Mateo bridge commutes.
Still have the ladder.
A small photograph from an obscure book
about a dry waterfall and a poem from Hyakunin isshu that read:
“Though the sound of the cascade long since has seized we still hear the murmur of its name”