Going Home!?

It was was dark outside.  All I could see were small clusters of lights as our plane came in to land, but I knew the unseen rural New England landscape well. In years past this landing meant I was coming home from college or in later years for a  visit with my ageing parents, my young children by my side.  Feelings now, as then, were a mixture of anticipation and melancholy.  The melancholy was from the recognition that time was closing in on the remaining time left between me and my parents. Those disturbing feelings are a visitor that accompanies advancing age, deepening recognition that the clock is ticking and adding a bittersweet quality to events that were once never given much thought.

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The empty airport concourse signalled immediately that no one would be there any longer for my homecoming. It had been decades ago, but happy images of my mother and father waiting for me remained alive, however impossible. The Christmas decorations on display looked a little cheesier to me than they had in my youth. Mounds of dirty snow were the only remainders of last week’s early snowstorm.  The cold air seemed colder than I’d remembered.  The winter coat I’d brought with me in defense of the cold warmed me, but felt heavy and oppressive.

I’d come to visit a dear relative who is being treated for a grave illness.  I was relieved to finally visit, but apprehensive too. Continue reading “Going Home!?”

Between Heaven and Earth

After recovering from three somewhat harrowing days driving a rental car on the road in Japan, we learned , despite the high points of the trip, not to do it again.  I also relearned that there is a very small margin of error between life and death on a snake like one lane curving  road where a head -on collision could catapult you from one world to the next and was possible at any time.

At Koyasan, while walking through the cryptomeria pathway lined with tombs of the dead, I learned again to value the time I have left, before I rest for eternity with the millions who have passed before us.

 

 

 

 

On the far too narrow one lane road leading us out of Koyasan, I learned that beauty can exist in unlikely circumstances. The road really should have been just a pathway along the small river, but it actually was chosen by Google maps as our way to get down the steep mountain.  It even had a route #!

Despite the knowledge that each curve or one wrong turn of the wheel could presage our final moments, I could not get over the thrill of being in this beautiful area.  The intense beauty overcame my fear. The foliage lining the river’s path was at its peak of fall color.  The river itself, about 25 feet beneath the road, was populated by beautiful boulders and rocks, the river, crystal clear, running a path between them. It invited me to linger, but my husband had a sense of urgency to get us to a wider and undoubtedly safer road. Some bikers rushed past us, but other than that, we’d meet one or two other motorists about every 20minutes, which is to say, we were mostly alone in this splendid landscape on this treacherous road.

the river below.

 

Then, suddenly this journey into an alternate universe was over.  We welcomed the first houses that appeared and celebrated escaping alive.  Maybe I’m being overly melodramatic, but I don’t think so!  Soon, the junk big box architecture that is too prevalent outside of most cities took over our visual field.  We’ve lost so much of the natural world.

The sacred place of Koyasan was meant to celebrate nature, as is Shintoism. I am grateful we got to participate in the celebration, somber as it could be at times.

Life is precarious and glorious.

Am I Waku Waku or Doki Doki?

Waku waku (suru)!  I recently learned, means I am excited.  Or shall I say doki doki (suru),  meaning I’m excited and nervous at the same time?  Either way, I’m off to Japan again in two more days.  My excitement is always a given, my nervousness is a result of being by myself for about two weeks before I’m joined by my husband.  I looked for a travel companion but it was a half-hearted attempt because I was a bit ambivalent about having to think about anyone other than myself while traveling. The timing was not good for those I’d asked and I decided that was a definite sign to go it alone for a while.

So I’ll be setting my own agenda, lingering too long at places, eating too early or too late some days, and in general, just following my own instincts without consideration of any one else.  It will be wonderful at times, a bit lonely at times, but always interesting.

Some well-meaning people will be sorry for me, but I will not share in their sorrow.  I’ve been to Japan many times so I am familiar with the do’s and dont’s of the culture. I’ll use my gaijin license if necessary or when I feel like a bad ass. This means, that because I’m a foreigner in Japan, there’s no way I can possibly know how to do everything correctly, so I am given an imaginary license to make mistakes. Or do the wrong thing, as the case may be.comic

The loneliness I will feel will probably come around meals, but there’s freedom there too, to grab a take out and eat in my own room while watching tv, or writing a blog. I speak a little Japanese now and am eager to try out my new words. I know where to get $$ from atm’s when I run out.  I also know for a woman alone it’s about as safe a country as you can find. This trip, I’m determined to take a few day trips on my own to travel by train outside of Kyoto.

After a bit of a rough patch physically, I’m feeling more healthy than I have been for a while. For those wondering, I have asthma, but I’m now armed with different meds and am able to breathe so much more easily.

I am grateful for my new lease on life.  I am grateful for the wonderful opportunity to return again to Japan to continually find inspiration there.  So doki doki is tolerable and part of the package of moving forward in life.  How wonderful to say waku waku (suru) as well!

Come on a long with me for the journey.  I’ll do my best to keep you entertained and interested.  Follow me on notoutyet.com.http://notoutyet.com

Doug Elkins: A Choreographer AND a Philosopher?

Some of you have heard me say that choreographer Doug Elkins has an encyclopedic memory for details, for music, and for information.  He has an active and fertile mind.  If you listen carefully while he speaks, his references and quotes can unlock new doors to making the most of life. Perhaps he is our 21st-century dance philosopher?

His recent research into making his new work Kintsugi, coming together NOW at DANCEworks, has revealed the following little gems which Elkins shared with us last week during DANCEwork’s Friday Club.

All acts of communication are acts of translation.  Jeanette Winterson, Written on the Body
There is a thin semantic line separating weird and beautiful.  And that line is covered in jellyfish.

The world breaks everyone and afterwards many are stronger at the broken places.
  Ernest Hemingway.

Doug Elkins is interested in intersections of cultures and forms. Actually, Doug Elkins is interested in everything! His unique process somehow manages to make each object of interest look better once juxtaposed with the other. Same goes for dance!

While visiting Japan, Elkins coined a word, Japanizing.  To him, it means the Japonization of another culture’s memes, so that once Japanized, it becomes a new thing unto itself and can be viewed differently than its original form. For me, it’s a harmless form of cultural appropriation, taking something I’m very familiar with, such as ice cream sundae or a bacon/cheese sandwich and kicking it up a few notches, making it more enticing and delectable.  My own easy-to-access references!

I hope I’ve intrigued you enough to check out Doug Elkins DW’s Residency.  I can promise you won’t be bored.  I can promise Doug Elkins will give something to think about. Likely, he’ll give you something to laugh about as well.  And, I can promise you’ll be spending time with one of the most gifted and interesting choreographers of our generation!  Be sure to come to the final performance that will preview Kintsugi on September 7 & 8, at the Lobero Theatre.  Tix at box office or lobero.com.  Stay up to date on the residency at www.sbdanceworks.com or on our facebook page.

Return to Youth with Anti-Ageing?? Get Over It

Can we please eliminate/eradicate the term anti-ageing?

There is no such thing. Anti aging=death. It’s a ridiculous phrase. It’s added as a descriptive term to advertising far too frequently. It’s understood to be undeniably positive, promoting everything from diets to yoga, face cream, lipstick, underwear, to acai berries. Let’s be truthful. Anti aging = anti-nature. Can’t be done. Don’t waste your time or spend you $$$. Or give it credibility.

We all age at different rates. If you’re like I am, you have already looked around at people your own age, wondering how some look so young, or what happened to make others look so old. There’s a wide variation among us. Some things in life accelerate the aging process, but if you have the pleasure (let’s hope) of living a long life, YOU WILL AGE SOONER OR LATER. Better to face it, than to flee.

Just as mid-life provides us with an opportunity to examine our lives and make changes as necessary, ageing provides a similar opportunity if we can jettison all the nonsense that surrounds it that just isn’t worth the dwindling time we have.

The somewhat obvious spin-off of anti-ageing rhetoric is designed to make us dissatisfied with ourselves and our naturally ageing bodies and minds.  It does just that if you don’t have your ears perked up and call it out for what it is.  It’s ultimately anti-life.

I don’t want to be approached by a pretty young thing patronizingly offering me a creme to make me look younger. Fuck off.  I’ve earned my place in life and I’m quite ok thank you very much. I’m not ashamed to look my age although I must admit to being a little too happy when I’m told I look younger than I am!  Old thought patterns don’t let go so easily.

I have zero desire to strut around in very high heels to make my body look better.  I’ve already played that painful game.

Now that I am approaching my late 70’s, I see ageism all around me. In myself too. We are SO culturally conditioned. I don’t like it in myself . I resent it in others . But, I’m becoming more and more aware of it. I’ve decided to become active in identifying it when I see it and calling it out. Others are doing it too. It’s well past time to be realistic, don’t you think?

… the success of the anti-ageing industry that caters to the needs of the elderly, like alternative medicine, it owes much of its success to its fundamental, albeit ambiguous, relationship with science. This particular sector in consumer society is shrouded with an aura of science that is used for the promotion of a variety of goods. It thrives on symbolic uses of science, while passing over its requirements for experimental evidence, peer review and official regulations. The aura and the discourse of science are skilfully applied for product enhancement in response to a fast-growing demand from the ageing public (see McConnel & Turner, page S59).

The anti-ageing market is replete with products: yoghurt cures, enema regimens, cell injections, magnetic devices, skin creams, herbal elixirs, glandular extracts, hormonal therapies, vitamin supplements, fad diets and exercise programmes. They give us anti-oxidants to neutralize oxygen-free radicals; chelators to bind heavy metal ions such as copper and iron; dehydroepiandrosterone to rejuvenate the immune system, improve brain function and relieve stress; growth hormone to increase muscle mass and function; retinoic acid to decrease skin wrinkling, and many more.  EMBO European Molecular Biology Organization