“We make a living by what we get. But we make a life by what we give.”
Norman MacEwan

Shodo – Getting Started

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A couple(?) of years ago Iulia went to a calligraphy workshop in Cluj and the papers she came back with shimmered for me. It stayed with me for a while. Eventually, I did some research into it and that led me to Shodo:

THIS spoke to me. I seem to be drawn to Japanese culture. First the Shakuhachi, then Kumiko (for which I have not had space during this last year) … and now Shodo. This felt like a great “indoors activity” for winter.

While I was inquiring into Shodo, Iulia searched and found that there is a practitioner in Cluj. I was surprised and excited at the possibility of having a living human being who could guide me. I even left my cave and went to meet her at a presentation she gave in Cluj (about a year ago?!). We spoke, she was reluctant and said that if she had space she would get back to me. I haven’t heard back from her (yet?).

I also inquired about online courses and found one that seemed attractive. I signed up for the first-section to sense the vibe. I liked it and started researching for materials. For better and for worst, Amazon is a limited experience in Romana so I had to look elsewhere. After more research, I found a producer from China (Japanese calligraphy originated in China) and, just before the pandemic took off, placed an order.

The order took a long time to arrive (~8 months). I was starting to think that maybe it just wasn’t meant to be. However, as fall set in and I was nailing down the last tiles on the roof nearing the end of this construction season, I received an SMS that the package had arrived in Cluj. It took two visits to the city to retrieve it (because during the first visit the post office was closed for disinfection) but it made it home … a brush, an ink stick, an inkstone, and some paper.

… and I’ve been practicing. I am using newspaper as practice paper: … still don’t have the courage to “waste” good paper 🙂

The most interesting aspect of this practice so far, has been a raw and fresh experience of Quality. With every movement, every stroke and every character, I get a direct sensory experience of Quality. Before I get into an intellectual analysis of what worked, what didn’t and what I can improve … there is an immediate experience: this sucks, this is OK, this is actually good … that stroke came out beautiful. It reminds me of breathing in Asana … but this is a new subject matter … where the experience is still new and immediate. I don’t have (yet) past experience to pre-empt my experience.

I feel like I am excercising my Quality muscles 🙂 … and since I am using the newspapers to start the stove … all that is left is whatever embodied knowledge accumulated … and my impression of Quality!

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