Friday, June 22, 2012

stay golden

Through a series of completely amazing and unexpected events, I found myself traveling across Japan this last October.  I hadn't exactly put it on my list of must-see countries, but I never object to seeing any place that I haven't already spent much time. So there I was, on Halloween day, excited to find myself embarking on a very special "work" trip to visit communities of artists with developmental disabilities.

During our travels, we toured a small program hosting an art exhibition for those who lived onsite.  Amongst the abstract charcoal prints and brightly colored pastel animal portraiture, I found a long white banner with Kanji written in dark, feathery brushstrokes.  When I first saw the banner, I was so taken by the music of those brushstrokes that I instinctively had to own it.  I wanted to absorb that free-form sensuousness into my daily living.  I wanted to sit inside of it for a broad expanse of time.  The very kind and thoughtful man who was giving us our tour laughed softly and told me that, actually, I couldn't own the banner because it belonged to their program.  It was, in fact, their motto.  Roughly translated, the phrase was simple:  "Find identity, join society."    
Months later, I continue to be touched by this phrase and think of it often throughout each week.  So simple, so basic, and yet, such a complex and, at times, extremely difficult accomplishment.  How many of us struggle with just those basic fundamental concerns?  All those existential questions regarding purpose and desire, all those socially awkward moments and feelings of inadequacy and regret, culminating into a pure dichotomous philosophy that seeks to enrich all of us (regardless of shape, size, ability, and limitation).  Thinking about this solidifies that the duality of self and community can exist so readily, and yet, must be a conscious and daily act.  One that is supported by every branch of life, including art, work, family, and self.

 Note:  For any who are interested, the program is called Yayoien and you can find them here.

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