Red texture. Kyoto, 2017.
Red texture. Kyoto, 2017.

Dear friend,

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.

Eric Kim Cindy Red Kyoto Curtain

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.

My theory:

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 use the tools of others. For example, testing the OnePlus 5 camera of my sister Jennifer,
or HDR+ on the nexus 6P of my sister Annette.

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.

Kyoto. Cindy, 2017
Kyoto. Cindy, 2017

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.

Kyoto selfie with Cindy. Reflection, 2017
Kyoto selfie with Cindy. Reflection, 2017

3. Money as freedom

Cindy peeking through the curtain. Kyoto, 2017
Cindy peeking through the curtain. Kyoto, 2017

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.

4. Zen

Cindy and I spent a few days and nights at a Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto.

Reflection of Cindy in Ukata in our Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017
Reflection of Cindy in Ukata in our Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017

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.

Uji, 2017. Note the edge of the top right frame and bottom left frame and top left frame... all connect quite well.
Uji, 2017.

No distractions from the outside world. Focused work.

Just shooting with RICOH GR II, having fun with Cindy. Snapshot photos.

Cindy diagonal composition with arms. Ricoh GR II with 28mm and flash, and ERIC KIM COLOR PRESET.
Cindy diagonal composition with arms. Ricoh GR II with 28mm and flash, and ERIC KIM COLOR PRESET.

Little patio area. Reflections on the day, over green tea.

Cindy with finger on forehead. On the patio of our ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy with finger on forehead. On the patio of our ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017

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?

Cindy in Yukata and cup of tea in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy in Yukata and cup of tea in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017

Stress and excitement living in the city, vs the calm and tranquil and meditative (but perhaps boring) life in the countryside?

Cindy picture of ERIC sleeping in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy picture of ERIC sleeping in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017

Simple pleasures. Sleeping on the ground, waking up to natural light.

WiFi and charging ports is all we need to work.

Eric Kim selfie. Uji, Kyoto.

Quietness and emptiness, help my mind focus and think, and wander.

Cindy’s ghetto standing desk. At Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017.
Cindy’s ghetto standing desk. At Ryokan in Uji, Kyoto 2017.

Wandering around the older town, seeing the beautiful decay. Impermanence.

Coin Laundry. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Coin Laundry. Uji, Kyoto 2017

Nothing to shoot? A selfie will do.

Eric Kim selfie with flash.
Eric Kim selfie with flash.

A thought… how would it be like to life in a Ryokan long-term?

Cindy in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy in Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017

I don’t know. But I really miss the sound of the river.

River in Uji. Kyoto, 2017.

Cindy in bed. Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017
Cindy in bed. Ryokan. Uji, Kyoto 2017