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Wednesday, August 16

Ikebana Grooving

Let's face it... I am type A all the way. One of the most important things I want to do while I am here in the land of zen is to learn to control the highstrung tendencies... at least a little.

Yesterday afternoon found me in my first Ikebana Kofu class. Walking in, all I knew about Ikebana was that it was a highly revered traditional, Japanese art form that takes a lot of concentration and patience. (Patience, something I have a desperate need to become much more skilled in if I am ever to have children.) There is so much more to Ikebana though. I still don't understand it all and I am told I won't for another three months. I can, however, memorize the facts... it's about creating harmony through linear aspects... a triangle to be exact... in the minds eye. The points on the triangle represent heaven, man and earth. The design of the arrangement places all elements facing one another showing how each is connected to the other.

What a significant thought and one I don't think I contemplate nearly enough. Each of my actions will affect the energy and air around me, relationships and the nature in which I exist. So through patience (again that word) and consideration, I can become a more harmonious entity in this world that I live in. A complete shared balance of the world. I don't want to wax philospohic, but this is something I do already know. And yet I live in a way that only considers each moment on its own individual basis and little thought of recognizance. I feel that there is much more than a creative outlet that this art form could help me with.

Yet the first day of Ikebana was not about balance and patience for me. I got frustrated when I didn't understand what the Sensei was trying to explain. I was sad when I was told I placed the angles of man and earth incorrectly. While others worked slowly and assuredly around me, I seemed to not be grasping a thing and sat there feeling very lost and alone. But I know that becoming a better person won't happen if I turn and run when I am feeling scared or inadequate. The whole point of being here - in this country - was exactly that... to become a better person. To find more of myself than I knew existed thus far. And to fight the fears I have hidden within myself.

I had to keep trying.

We were creating an upright Moribana style. This is basically taking the flowers we were provided - purple Turkish Bell Flower, Crazy Eggplant and Monstera Leaves - and placing them in the appropriate triangular shaped positions in a flat dish. Sensei worked around the room and finally came to sit with me and show me specifically how to place my initial lines. But language barriers (she speaks English but mixes it with a lot of Japanese) made it difficult to understand where she was indicating me to cut or place the arrangement. She was truly patient and by the end of the first hour, I understood at least the placement. And the arrangement looked pretty! Or so I thought. Then she tells me to take it apart and do it over. *gasp* By myself? But I did as she said.

I carefully took all of the flowers back out and started over. It took me about a quarter of the time that the first design did. As I peer around the room, I notice that everyone else is still working slowly on their first one. I somehow think I am not supposed to be shoving in the arrangement as quickly as I did. But Sensei came over and approved of my work. She moved one leaf and added one more flower but overall she seemed pleased. Everyone else was finishing up their design at this point. So they really only do one design a class but I did two to learn the underlying principles of Ikebana design. Understood. However... how in the world am I supposed to move that slow in my subsequent classes? It just seems unnatural! Hence, the reason I think I should stick with this. Anything that can slow me down and knock some of that type A down a notch can't be a bad thing for me to learn.

You can't carry your design home so you have to take it all apart. Again. Made me want to cry a little but I just bit my lip instead. I was supposed to pick Kimono Hubby up from work but I told him I needed a half hour. And what did I do? I went back to the hotel room and just as quickly as the first time, I put it all back together again.

I think there is definitely something I am still missing with this. Perhaps next class they will teach me to move in their turtle speed. I certainly am hoping so. And hoping for so much more.


Anonymous said...

I'm so glad you're getting to experience this specialized flower designing. You'll be a pro in no time.
- JoLynn

Unknown said...

I, too, took ikebana from sensei. Hang in there. It will become a form of meditation, to you. Please tell sensei I said hello. She'll remember me as Kathleen who taught Jazzercise.