I was at the post office yesterday, went up to the counter and asked for some stamps. The postal worker went right to work. She slammed open a drawer, fumbled for a sheet of stamps, tore off two with a flourish, and handed them to me with one hand, taking change with the other.
You’d have thought there was a long line behind me. Or a few. Or even one other person in the post office. But I was the only one. The nervousness was infectious. I dug fast and deep into my wallet to produce some coins and get the heck out of the post office as fast as I could.
What is it about Tokyo society that turns us into speeding trains? I can get things done, for sure. Just don’t stand in my way or stop to chew the fat because I’m on a schedule, a tight schedule. I’ve got to get home and check my Facebook account. And send out a Tweet or two. And some guy in Ein Hod wants to friend me on LinkedIn.
This skewed relationship to time, to enjoying life at a sane and leisurely pace wasn’t always this way in Japan. Zen Buddhism stills teaches how to stop to smell the roses or at least appreciate the rapidfire song of the cicadas without feeling the obligation to join at their pace.
This is why I return to my creativity for short breaks, for meditative pauses
to step outside the speed of a life that feels increasingly out of sync with my heartbeat. When I draw or write, I can forget about the pressures of the fast life and enjoy doing things really, really slowly. Like selecting a paint brush so small and thin, I’m covering the paper with the detail of another world, another reality.
Drawing in community is great fun too. There’s still a few weeks remaining before summer break to join me in Tokyo at a Genesis art workshop –with a stopover to draw in beautiful Ueno Park. For details see Workshop schedule