Taking Time for Tea

tea ceremony

 

When I lived in Japan, one of my students was a rather revered master of the tea ceremony.  On one occasion, my roommate and I were invited by her to participate in one.  It is highly ritualistic and at times beautiful.  It is fascinating to see people really concentrating on something.  They’ve got laser focus and every movement seems deliberate.

Today, I got treated to a less esoteric version of this for Today’s Perfect Moment.

While I was in the company lunchroom, one of the staff, who happens to be Japanese, was making herself some matcha (green tea, but not the kind of green tea that comes from bags.) She heated up the bowl. She scooped out an amount of powdered green tea and then took out the whisk to make it all frothy.  I was watching, but she didn’t notice me watching her.  She was doing her task, more meditatively than ritualistically, though I could easily have confused the two.

I tried to take in the whole scene. I watched her movements, her body language, and her facial expressions.  They showed both concentration and anticipation.  When she was finally ready to drink, she casually rotated the bowl a few centimetres, and brought it to her lips.  Her shoulders dipped in relaxation and her grin grew slightly.  I didn’t hear a sigh of contentment, but I felt it must be there.  She was definitely experiencing and enjoying a Perfect Moment.

 

Advertisements
Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, beverages, green tea, Japan, Japanese, meditation, preparation, relaxation, tea | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 14 Comments

Like No One Is Watching

IMG_20180117_110013369.jpg

There are two different ways that I pick Today’s Perfect Moment. This might not be that important for you, but it is important for today’s post.

I either reflect on the day when I am at my keyboard, or on the bus on my way to the keyboard. This is more of a choosing method.  It might mean that the day was chalk full of Perfect Moments, or it might mean that I need cheering up and making this choice always seems to brighten my mood.

The other way seems to be more organic. At some point in the day, I feel so good about something that I know it is going to be called the Perfect Moment.  It seems to be less about deciding and more about recognizing how special a particular moment really is.  Sometimes I am aware and sometimes not aware.  It could be because I am tired or it could be because I am not “listening” to how my body, spirit, and soul are responding.

This sometimes, leads to a day where I am aware of the Perfect Moment, only for it to be eclipsed by another one. Sometimes a third one will eclipse the second one.  A Perfect Series of Moments is born–or maybe I should call that a Perfect Day.

Why am I bothering you with all this? Today, while not a series, fits into this latter category.

Today’s Perfect Moment came while I was out walking. For the past while everyone has been complaining about the weather.  While I don’t blame them, I don’t know why they are making such a big deal about it.  It is winter.  When I saw the bright sun reflecting off the snow, flickering like diamonds and when the crisp air filled my lungs, I forgot all of their complaints.  The only way this could get better is if I were on a ski hill or in the ski chalet hot tub, with my drink cooling in a snow bank.

Feeling confident that I had Today’s Perfect Moment, I walked on calmly. That is, until I came across a young man dancing on the sidewalk.  He had headphones on, but I could almost understand the beat of song.  He moved well and seemed oblivious to the cars and people around him.  Dance like no one is watching, is what came to mind.  I was going to ask him if I could take a picture, but his bus came and he got on without a word.

For the next few minutes I wondered if this was in fact destined to be Today’s Perfect Moment. It had all the hallmarks; it had beauty and grace, it made me smile, and it seemed so totally random and spontaneous.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, dance, dancing, fearless, music, seasons, weather, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Small “r” Rebel

rebel

There’s a rebel in all of us. Maybe there isn’t a revolutionary working to change the world.  Maybe there isn’t someone who’ll put it all on the line to make big changes.  Maybe we would just like to follow the rules sometimes.

No doubt that is true, but also true is the fact that sometimes it feels good to push back against the rules. I am not even talking about the big rules.  It feels good to break even the teeniest and tiniest arbitrary ones.  Sometimes it feels good be the small “r” rebel.

I am not talking about drinking all the milk and not telling anyone. I am not talking about not holding the elevator door for someone.  I am not talking about parking in a disabled parking spot.  Those things are just rude–though because that word also begins with a small “r”, I wonder if there is a connection…..

I am not talking about wearing socks with sandals. That’s just a fashion faux pas.  I am not talking about drinking and driving, or the more modern texting in driving.  Those things are just plain unsafe.  Being the small “r” rebel isn’t about danger as much as it is about person liberty.

I think the small “r” rebel could order two desserts in a restaurant. I think a small “r” rebel could eat cake for breakfast, and breakfast for dinner.  It isn’t the size of act of rebellion, but rather the size of the rebellion in the act.

I won’t tell you what I did. Not because it is so criminal or so daring, or even so original.  It was none of those things.   In fact, it was pretty banal.  It is only upon reflection that I feel like I did the right thing.  It is only upon reflection that I notice how good I feel about “sticking it to the man.” even though I do not know who “the man” is.  I made the choices.  I am in command of my liberty.

If you follow the rules most of the time, there is a definitely powerful feeling when you make the decision to stop following them. You’re asserting control over your life and over your individual character.

Sometimes, the path of more resistance is worth traveling for a while.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, rebel, rebellion | Tagged , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Beauty of Winter

Christmas and trains 2013 031

I forgot my phone and had to run back to my house to get it. If I didn’t have to enter my work hours, or keep up several games of Words with Friends, I probably would have left it and walked calmly to the bus stop.  Thankfully I went back for it and discovered Today’s Perfect Moment.

As I was leaving home for the second time, having retrieved my phone, I started back on that walk to the bus stop. That’s the walk that seems to take too long when the bus is coming and is way to short when you end up waiting a long time in the cold.  The sun was momentarily bright and the snow that had accumulated overnight was glistening ever so diamond like.

In front of me, a woman was pulling her child, the gender obscured by the voluminous snowsuit, on a toboggan. I smiled at the scene, which was by no means new to me.  Obviously they were headed to the field, which had a small hill for tobogganing.  I craned my neck and could see some children already doing so.  There tracks, faint and muddles, were visible in the distance.  I smiled and greeted them as I passed.

I walked to the bus stop, quite easily as my mind stayed upon the scene. Who were these people complaining that children didn’t play anymore?  Who were these people that said video games and other electronic distractions had ruined childhood?  They might be right, but when I look at hill full of children hooting and hollering, braving the cold and damp, I know they are somewhat wrong.

 

Posted in adventure, adversity, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, happiness, seasons, sports, weather, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

Happiness Arithmetic: Easier Than Algebra

on the bike2

This picture has very little to do with the post except that I am going fast and I know how positive I feel when the bike is rocketing along the street.

 

And one day the student shall become the teacher. As I became a teacher (sometimes joyfully, sometime begrudgingly, sometimes with a clear view of the irony and karmic significance), this saying is somewhat prophetic.  However, in it’s less literal form, it sums up Today’s Perfect Moment quite well.

Today, I, at times the surliest of surly, the grouchiest of grouches, and the most pessimistic of the pessimists, gave someone a lecture on being positive. Actually, if I am being honest, it could probably be described more as a scolding than a lecture.  Wow!  I really am a teacher.

This blog, some interesting books, and some great people, have improved my outlook enough that I now want to force it down someone’s throat. Yes, believe me, I understand that I really shouldn’t be forcibly trying to make people more positive.  When I finish typing I am going to have to apologize a little.  However, I do want to influence people to think more positively.

I imagined it like this: If you spend one year negatively waiting for something to happen, you’re going to be unhappy the whole time.  Even if the bad thing doesn’t happen, you spent a whole year worrying and dreading, only to be relieved for one day.

If you spend one year doubting something good will happen, hoping to be pleasantly surprised when it does, you’re going to be unhappy for a whole year only to happy for one day.

If you’re positive and excited for a whole year and it doesn’t happen, you’re still happy for a whole year, and sad for one day.

Not even considering the effect of positive thinking on making something happen, the math is pretty clear here.

That’s my very simplistic take on it. I am sure I could spin it out, layer it, fill in some more platitudes and add a few case studies and turn it into a self help book.  It will be called Happiness Arithmetic:  Easier than algebra.  If you’re a publisher and you are reading this, contact me as soon as possible.

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, happiness, teaching | Tagged , , , , , , | 5 Comments

Comfort Food

IMG_20180113_151601927

A traditional calendar…no days or months.  It’s just the year of the dog.

 

If you’re still following your New Year’s Diet, look away….run away…close this browser…but make sure you come back later.  When?  Later.  When you are full.  When the diet thing is done.  Later.

 

For those of you that have stuck around, hopefully you can find some enjoyment from my post. In case you haven’t figured it out, today’s Perfect Moment will include references to food.  Delicious food.

Having spent the early afternoon aimlessly wandering through a stamp and coin show where I somehow managed not to buy anything–though I found an amazing collection of Japanese stamps that I desperately want, but would have to sell a kidney to afford, I decided to reward myself with some Japanese comfort food.

For me, that means tonkatsu. I went to J-Town, which is located on the north side of the last street in Toronto–which technically means it isn’t in Toronto.  Inside the grocery store they have a no tipping restaurant that serves tonkatsu, omurice, udon, curry, and a few other dishes.  The menu is posted above the counter, not handed out to the customers.

IMG_20180113_152744326

I am a bad blogger–I was too excited/hungry to take a picture before I dug in.

 

I used to go there more often, but now only go once or twice a year….or whenever I am in the neighbourhood.

After dinner, I perused the goods on sale and decided I needed some comfort snacks as well.

IMG_20180113_172524202_HDR

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, ethnic food, food, food shopping, grocery shopping, Japan, Japanese, shopping, tonkatsu | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 7 Comments

Kerouac Found Me

She was beautiful, she had her own style, and she was reading On The Road.

I am not going to wax lyrical about the book.  I have conflicting feelings about the book.  I have read it several times and felt differently each time.  What I can’t deny is the impact and importance of the book.

I also know that it is a gateway to a wider world of literature.  It is a book that opens doors to other books.  Love it or hate it, you will find something else to read in reaction to it.  You might look for something that emulates the style or emulates the depth.  You might look for something more or less spiritual.  You might look for something with more or less structure.

When I asked her what she was reading, she answered enthusiastically, proudly displaying the book.  She explained that she had requested it for Christmas (Along with the Catcher in the Rye) and had been looking forward to it since.  Her eyes lit up when she talked about the book and the characters.

I would love to say that we spent the rest of the commute talking about books, but we did not.  Why ruin a Perfect Moment.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, Aurora, books, bus, commuting, reading, Viva | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments

All The World’s A Stage

What happens on the planet Earth, stays on the planet earth

When I caught sight of this witty take on the all too familiar slogan, I chuckled inwardly and while thinking it one of the better satires, I preferred to ponder the fashion sense of the uniquely attractive woman in front of me–I wanted to compliment her on her studded boots, but felt I should keep my opinions to myself. As is my lot in life, I failed to recognize the significance of this omen.

My commute, not including, though not discounting, the woman in studded boots, was nothing if not memorable.   The words so boldly printed on a baseball cap worn by random stranger on the subway was clearly a sign.

You see, as I was minding my own business, trying to finish a book, a commotion erupted several metres from me. I don’t know what happened exactly, but I do know a young woman was having a very loud shouting match with someone over the phone.  As it was raining, we were all waiting in the indoor shelter provided for just such a reason.  Little did we know we were going to be treated to a performance piece.

I will spare you a blow by blow account. The topics that were thrashed about with reckless audacity were money, sex, cigarettes, infidelity, children, and drugs.  These topics were lovingly described with some creative profanity and punctuated by bursts of tears and guttural noises of frustration.  It was something to behold.

From my faithful reporting, you might think I enjoyed the play. However, I silently cursed myself for not bringing my MP3 player today.  Why I cursed myself silently, I don’t know.  I could have shouted at myself or at least muttered some vocal phases like “alas” or “woes is me”.  There is no way anybody would have heard them.  I find it disconcerting how the cell phone have turned private conversations into public spectacles.

While this hardly counts as Today’s Perfect Moment, the fact that I could at least recognize all the portents, although quite belatedly, is definitely Perfect.

 

 

Posted in anger, Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, bus, commuting, Omens, portents, public transportation, subway | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment

The Sound of Snow Falling

IMG_20180108_222901938.jpg

Today had two Perfect Moments.

The first was the early morning snowfall. I was out of the house before the sun had cleared the horizon.  It was a short walk to my bus stop, but it was a quiet one.  No cars passed me and I felt no need to rush.  When I got to the stop, I caught sight of a fine curtain of snow that had been falling during my entire walk.

With no bus in sight, but expected soon, I had time to soak it all in. I was able to tune out the few cars that passed by and even the neon from the nearby gas station seemed less bright and intrusive.  I couldn’t hear the snow falling, but I felt like I could.  It was sort of like when rain is falling in a drizzle and though you can hear it, you feel like you can’t.

It was Perfect.

The second was that a co-worker brought me my favourite Japanese chocolates (filled with coffee nougat). They are truly delicious, but I was more appreciative of the fact that she took time out of her visit to Japan to buy them for me.  It might only have taken a little thought while in line at the convenience store, but when you’re on vacation that seems like quite a bit.

Now I only have to worry about not eating them too quickly.

 

On another note…….

my reader only shows two or three blogs at a time.  If more than that get published, I lose the opportunity to see yours.  So sorry, I am not neglecting you, I just don’t see that you’ve put up a new post unless I check the site every five minutes.  Hopefully, this situation will resolve itself soon.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, chocolate, commuting, Japan, Japanese, seasons, snow, weather, winter | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 12 Comments

Overcoming Procrastination

jobjar

I don’t have a job jar. I probably should have a job jar.  Does that actually work?

I have read books on procrastination (after procrastinating starting them) and I have never found a sure fire method of beating procrastination. A rapidly approaching deadline means I get things done, but it doesn’t mean that the procrastination doesn’t happen.

Well, today’s Perfect Moment is a small victory over procrastination.. In my non existent job jar, I had a whole bunch of little jobs that I figured I should get around to.  They weren’t particularly taxing, which made them easy to put off.  I know that sounds ridiculous–it certainly reads as ridiculous.  I am almost ashamed that I put it in this post–but I actually think it’s true.

I could have found other things to do today, but for some reason, I was able to gather some energy and do a bunch of these tasks. Maybe it was the lack of exciting TV.  Maybe it was that no one bothered me, or looked over my shoulder, or criticized my plan of attack.

On another note, totally unrelated to this, I am experiencing difficulty in reading other people’s posts. When I click on my Reader tab, nothing comes up.  The page shows an outline of where posts would be, but no posts appear and there is nothing to click on.  It is kind of frustrating.  I know some of you have written posts, but I can’t read them.  Sorry.

I have written a note to WP, but if any of you have a solution, please let me know.

 

Posted in Aspirations, Reflections, Perfection, procrastination | Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 11 Comments