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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Norwegian Wood, Religious Weddings and the Canvas of Life


Latest addition to my mum's art portfolio

Fascinating, thrilling day today. It is so great to see family after such a long time.

I caught the tram at 6.30am, train down to Hereford, bus to Wormelow, car to Orcop. Thoroughly enjoyable journey. Not only did I get to indulge in one of all-time favourite hobbies -sewing patches on my jeans (and this was a MAJOR patch, handmade by my talented friend Suzie H a couple of years back, I've been saving it for such an occasion as today's), but also, I was able to indulge in listening to a new Audiobook - Norwegian Wood by Murakami. I've not read it before, but have long wanted to, knowing how much it is liked by so many of my friends. I absolutely loved 'Kafka on the Shore': I listened to that as I crossed the East China Sea, and found myself identifying with the characters as they made their own journey's West.

Whilst the narration of Norwegian Wood is not spellbinding in the way that that of Kafka was, I'm really enjoying the story nonetheless. I recognise the characters in people I know, the most prominent example being that of the upper-class womaniser destined to be a bureaucrat, who appears to me as the chap from Oxford university who made it to the final of the speech contest with me last month (to the right of me in this picture).



I did a bit of PC-doctoring today, getting my sister's webcam working for Skype (secret is to uninstall the Logitec software and let Skype handle the camera itself) which the boys liked (funny seeing yourself on screen for the first time!), and setting up iTunes so she can listen to some of the audiobooks I've purchased from Audible (you can license up to 3 computers to play your DRM-protected tracks).

Also talked about the wedding quite a bit, lots of good ideas emerging. It's going to be great.

One 'issue' that comes up for some people is this getting-married-in-a-church business. Neither *Twinkle* or I are particularly religious, and as you know, I am not too keen on traditional Christian notions of an almighty 'God' ...so why do I want to get married in a church?

Well, as with everything in life, a church wedding only carries the meaning that an individual chooses to assign to it. In Japan, 'church' weddings are popular (although the church is unlikely to be 'real' and the priest may well be a fake). I feel I have been somewhat influenced by the research I carried out on Japanese 'Christian weddings' in 2006/07, in that for me such a wedding does not necessarily have to relate to any religious tradition, and is really very appealing.

What others may label as "God" I feel is a nameless infinite source; love; an immense energy that fills us, that is us, and all of our surroundings.

Thus, a demonstration of my commitment to *Twinkle* in the 'presence of God' is for me, not a subscription to norms as laid out in holy texts, but rather, a powerful acknowledgement of our decision to commit to strive to bring our energies, our love, into flexible alignment.

There's other, somewhat more tangible reasons for having a church wedding too. I want to see my dream bride walk down the aisle in a beautiful white dress -it's in all the movies! I want the experience of church bells ringing overhead, confetti being thrown as we leave the church. I've been influenced by popular culture, and I want to live the dream.

I also feel that our parents would appreciate a church wedding. Perhaps here again I am influenced by Japanese customs I feel that our wedding is in a way as much an event for our families as it is for us.

Dad

I'm not sure I could have handled a church wedding a year or two ago, but the timing now is perfect.




It's been a tremendous day of synchronisity. I won't go into details here, but just to say that thoughts that have been circulating within my head have today been vocalised by two people close to me, quite out of the blue. It's all related to where do I go from here? Suddenly, concerns over employment after I return to Japan are made to seem like nothing but minor details that are sure to addressed through the natural unfolding of life.

These worries have been dwarfed by the appearance of this huge blank canvas that stretches out as far as the eye can see. In front of it is this incredible array of coloured materials and tools for their application. There's a sign there too. It reads:

Paint your future. Then Live it.


Aghh! I can't deal with that! Where's the colouring book with the numbered options: 1 for red, 2 for blue, 3 for green? Just choose your picture and fill in as prescribed. I know if I do that I'll succeed, everyone does!

...but a blank canvas?! You mean I can paint anything at all? ...But, I dunno what to paint! And what if I go wrong, what if I get the colours mixed up?

I must work to accept that it's only when artists move away from the colouring template that new colours are created by the mixing of the primaries, its only through experimentation that breakthroughs in style are made - and that it is these breakthroughs that bring great joy to artist and onlooker alike.

I've not been faced with such a huge canvas before. It keeps on getting bigger too as it is unrolled further by friends, by family, by books, by experiences. I understand that I'm being challenged to pick up one of the many tools before me and make my mark, but what tool I should use, and what colour should I apply?

It'll come to me. I know it will. I needn't be afraid because I will be guided by someone or something.

It's also important that I not feel I have to paint the whole picture with a single brushstroke - I'd never dare make that sweep from left to right! If I start small with little dabs, holding a clear idea of what I'm looking to create in my mind, with time the scene will emerge. I may accidentally put a splurge of red where green would be better suited, but that red will come to play an important part, perhaps a little poppy in the field of wheat.

Hmm, it's very exciting.

What's even more exciting though, is that in reality, we are all faced with this canvas, every single day.

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7 Comments:

Blogger Shari said...

I think it speaks well of you that you have no problem with a church wedding. It's important not to get overly hung up on the symbolism other people apply to an experience and to value your own. As long as their symbolism in no way interferes with what you want to do, you can simply go your way and let them go theirs.

I always measure their intent rather than specific words when it comes to all things spiritual. Even though "God bless you," isn't something I'd say as it carries a connotation I can't quite agree with, my response would always be "thank you" because I know it means they are, in my terms, offering me their positive energy. I don't reject such wishes or blurt out that I'm not a Christian as I appreciate the sentiment even if it is couched in their jargon rather than mine.

To me, part of the problem these days with belief systems is the incessant need to cram one's ideas down the throats of others or to insist on debating the relative merits of one belief over another. Belief should be a personal and subjective thing (whether it is atheism or Christianity or whatever). It shouldn't be treated like an opinion that needs to be validated or scientifically measured.

I think tolerance is found in true respect for other beliefs and that respect is reflected in part by not making a point of throwing your disagreement in the faces of others who you know don't feel as you do. A lot of people talk the talk of religious tolerance, but few walk the walk. I think your attitude is showing you are matching your actions to your opinions.

BTW, your mother's art is looking very good.

23/3/08 15:57  
Blogger Joseph said...

Thank you for your comment Shari.

I think we are fortunate in that those around us are pretty open minded, and thus we don't have to worry about upsetting close family etc if we don't conform to accepted 'norms'.

Thanks for your comment on my mum's painting - she's grateful for the feedback as except for when I come to visit not many people get to see her work. :-)

23/3/08 21:53  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Ah, Joseph. The second half of your post was CLASSIC TGW. Straight out of one of these motivational books (sorry, sorry...audio books...seeing as you don't have time for reading these days?), meaningless, unsubstantial platitudes! I love it! I'm sorry, I'm sorry...but I have to laugh...whenever I read this kind of stuff from you I see David Brent from the episode in Season Two of The Office when he's giving that "motivational" speech. The backwards baseball cap. The white t-shirt. The stone-washed jeans. The huge white trainers.

"Paint your future. Then Live it."

Haha...brilliant stuff. Anyway, I do wonder though, why the constant need to recount/regurgitate this stuff? Is it a form of self-reassurance or consolidation? I do notice this to be a common phenomenon with people who subscribe to these Americanised notions of "self-improvement"...they'll be talking/blogging about something and then they'll slip into one of these "rifts" and just go off on a tangent, the eyes start glazing over and they start dredging up all these "revolutionary" (yeah, yeah, there's loads of possibilities in life...it's exciting and unpredictable...we get it)ideas.

"What's even more exciting though, is that in reality, we are all faced with this canvas, every single day."

Classic stuff Joseph. Although still not quite as much fun to read as the pre-Twinkle days...I'm sorry to say happy Joseph = dull Mumbles. Then again, I'm guessing that's a sacrifice you're willing you make? ; )

As for the stuff about the wedding...I don't want to burst your bubble at all (after all, it is your wedding day we're talking about...) but all this stuff about not really being THAT religious but still wanting to get married in a church...uh-huh...well, that sounds like probably 75% of people who get married. I'd say I'm pretty much anti-organised religion and yet, will I be getting married in a church? I hope so. Does that make me a hypocrite? Quite possibly, but who cares? As long as it's a special day for all involved, I certainly don't.

PS: Missed me? ; P

25/3/08 00:41  
Blogger Doubi said...

Heh, I should read your blog more often Joseph, it's as uplifting as your podcast was. I came here 'cause I saw something in your feed about TV and got curious as to whether it was the video podcast you talked about once... will go look into that more to unearth whatever new gem you've 隠した'd in your web of webs.

Anyway, I reckon you'll be fine. Life's what you bring to it, and you tend to bring a positive attitude and a desire to do good things left right 'n' centre, so you can't go wrong really. All this canvas stuff just sounds horribly exciting to me :D (although you may feel free to throw that comment in my face this time next year :P)

26/3/08 00:42  
Blogger Joseph said...

Cheers Doubi,

Ha, yeah, the streaming TV. It's something I've been thinking about quite a bit lately, and the other day whilst pretty drunk on a lack of sleep we did our first broadcast from Tame TV Studios, Hereford. It was after that live webcast that I recorded the intro video that's there now. I'm not advertising it widely on TGW yet as I don't think it'll take off till I get back to Japan. I see it as a good accompaniment to the podcast, but am not sure whether Japan's infrastructure will support live streaming from a phone yet.

The canvas thing is exciting ...but scary too! I guess one way to deal with it is pretend it doesn't exist and imagine we have no choices - that certainly makes for an easier life!

26/3/08 03:13  
Blogger sampler said...

It was interesting for me to read your comments about weddings. The name Hereford caught my eye at first because I was baptized at age 24 in Hereford. Then I saw what you wrote about Japanese Christian-style weddings. I am currently researching this phenomenon in Japan and I agree that things only have the personal meaning which one ascribes to them but Japanese people by and large do not know the substance which girds Christian matrimony. They are unfamiliar with the concept of one Almighty God before even having the option to reject/accept in many cases. It is very interesting how you have been influenced by this part of Japanese culture. May I quote you in my 'export of Japanese weddings' chapter?

8/6/08 16:48  
Blogger Joseph said...

Hello Sampler,

I found the Japanese wedding scene fascinating. Initially I was pretty dismissive with the fake priests and all, but towards the end of my research I felt, "well, why not?!".

I hope you find my report useful. Best of luck with your research.

Joseph

8/6/08 17:55  

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