Saturday, July 31, 2010

Only the Work

With palms together,

Good Morning Everyone,

We are told that practice makes perfect, but I can say spending the night with a cheap brush and ink stick is not necessarily a good idea. At three o’clock I was too tired to sleep. My alarm is set for 4:30. Hulu was on the Notebook, and I was sipping some very cheap Merlot.

There is something about the feel of grinding and mixing the paint that is so sensual. Practicing this grinding and mixing is allowing me to begin to feel when the paint is ready for a particular kind of brush stroke. It would seem this is important when doing painting. Also, the amount of paint on the brush seems important, especially in an effort to creatively express a free form of kanji.

I am looking at brushwork less for perfection of kanji and more for the potential of creative expression. Unlike art, perhaps like art, there is no perfection in Zen. There is just this and just that. Whatever is before me is an expression of perfection, warts and all. During my first two semesters of college back in 1968 or so, I fancied myself an art major and took a heavy dose of classes: Drawing 101, 102, Figure drawing, Intro to Painting, and Intro to Sculpture. My art professors often talked about “happy accidents,” those strokes of pen or brush that are unintentional, but there they are in the middle of our otherwise “perfect” effort. We students trained to begin to see the perfection of the accident.


It has just dawned on me how deeply I drew that practice into me. A willingness to see the truth of a happy accident is a baseline skill in our ability to be present. Like Art, in Zen there is only the work.

Be well.

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