Here are some current life meditations while here in Kyoto.
It’s weird, I have this zena zone feeling. A quiet sense of optimism. Excitement and optimism to the future.
A feeling of contentment, yet ambition.
1. Sleeping on the ground
Diogenes is one of my favorite Stoic/Cynic philosophers. He chose freedom as his supreme human good, over everything else.
I’ve been sleeping on the hard floor of our Airbnb in Kyoto, and the experience has been liberating. I sleep on the hard floor, with nothing but a pillow and a blanket. I can feel the floor in the back of my tailbone. When I wake up, I feel a bit sore.
Yet… the hardening effect seems good. I feel stronger after sleeping. Almost like a primal animal.
I need less sleep now. I slept last night at 1am, and woke up today at 6am, and surprisingly feel pretty good. A cup of coffee, and green tea, and I’m focused and in the zone.
Hard surfaces are good for us. They strengthen our bodies and minds.
We make ourselves softer, and flabbier… by preferring soft surfaces. Softer beds. Softer riding cars. We like “luxury” good which offer us more “comfort.”
But what if the true luxury in life was preferring the bare minimum? Or preferring the HARD over the soft?
I like sleeping on the ground. Why? I’ll never need to sleep in an expensive hotel. I can sleep at cheap hotels, motels, Airbnb apartments, or the floor of my friends in their homes. I can keep up this “starving college student” lifestyle, even though I’m rich and make a lot of money.
2. Preferring innovation with less
The easy way I try to innovate: buy a new tool, gadget, or digital device.
The best way to innovate: hack, edit, modify, or “mod” the tools I already have.
For example, rather than buying a new laptop, choosing to shoot JPEG to speed up the computer. To make new presets for my jpeg images on RICOH GR II, to achieve a color “look” I like, instead of buying a new camera.
To study new forms of photography, like computational photography. To not upgrade the hardware, but to upgrade and streamline, and come up with new innovations in software.
Applied to photography, to innovate in your artistry, don’t buy a new camera (hardware). Rather, upgrade your mind, creativity, and approach (software of your mind).
For your devices, squeeze out more effectiveness and efficiency by UNINSTALLING superfluous apps, and bloat ware. Don’t add horsepower to your car by adding new parts, just remove dead weight or superfluous parts. Strip the inessential. And almost all is inessential.
3. Money as freedom
Money as a tool to buy your freedom. Freedom to do what you want with your time.
Money is a waste when used on luxury objects. Objects do nothing to empower us. The only way to empower ourselves is to change our attitude, mind, and an effective way is to study philosophy or to just make more pictures.
As Richard Wagner said, via Nietzsche (I’m paraphrasing)
Making art is the primary metaphysical duty of a human being.
In normal talk,
The purpose or duty of a human being is to make art.
To be “happy’ is just to always be making art.
That means, making poems, making dances, making videos, making films, making pictures (photos or paintings), sculpture, or anything that expresses your inner soul.
Cindy and I spent a few days and nights at a Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto.
Super Zen experience. Big central communal room. Green tea from Uji. Making coffee in the room. Hearing the sound of the water, and seeing the view of the river. Quiet meditation and work in the room. Lovely walks around town. Deep fried chicken skin and Izakaya dinner at night. A relaxing private moment in the spa (onsen) before sleeping.
No distractions from the outside world. Focused work.
Just shooting with RICOH GR II, having fun with Cindy. Snapshot photos.
Little patio area. Reflections on the day, over green tea.
Is this a perfect life, at a Ryokan in nature, in Uji? If we stayed here long term, would we go insane? Is the true tranquil and peaceful life, away from other humans and society?
Stress and excitement living in the city, vs the calm and tranquil and meditative (but perhaps boring) life in the countryside?
Simple pleasures. Sleeping on the ground, waking up to natural light.
WiFi and charging ports is all we need to work.
Quietness and emptiness, help my mind focus and think, and wander.
Wandering around the older town, seeing the beautiful decay. Impermanence.
Nothing to shoot? A selfie will do.
A thought… how would it be like to life in a Ryokan long-term?
I don’t know. But I really miss the sound of the river.