I love the way that the bike and motorcycle garage at Takarazuka Station smells like incense. Every time I go to shodo class I park my bike there, stop at the door to pay my 100 yen and take the bike assisting conveyor belt up to the second floor to park it. And along with the smell of tires and of gasoline from the mopeds downstairs is the smell of incense coming from someplace, perhaps the office, perhaps the clothes of very peaceful garage workers.
And in the shodo class it remains, hanging in the air from another source. It is the smell of Sensei, of her paper, of the beautiful orange ink that she uses and the soft magical brush. I don't belong in that world. I can smell my otherness, but so too can I smell the fragrance touching my skin and my hair and my clothing. If I sat there longer enough, perhaps.
The lines were as they always are in shodo, which is to say, somehow different. I managed to catch Sensei creating the next piece for me to copy and so had the pleasure of seeing the orange ink beckoned from within the paper by her magical brush. Every element of time is there, the resolution is complete, the physicists need look no further.
And afterwards I sat with the two pages she had handed me, and the order of the strokes written in a delicate orange hand, and stared at their magic, as though watching one walking on their hands and telling me it must be so. Between my staring at these impossible pages and drinking the black tea served with the hope it would bring more clarity, I looked across again to Sensei.
Unoccupied by anyone needing her assistance she had gone about practicing something on her own. On several pages I saw her create the same word, the same general contour. But they were completely different, as though four different human beings had created them in completely different hands. She had become another and another and another person, taking on their movement, taking on their breath, touching the page with any face, eyes, hopes, and fears she wished. And yet always she sat there, the same, with the same brush.
I'm not sure there is anything like shodo in western art. It is a practice of complete awareness and control mixed with poetry, and for the master, endless creativity. But it seems that for years, one must be able to emulate what one sees precisely. And even Sensei does just this. She showed us a picture of a Chinese ink drawing of a fish on a flyer she had received and her own copied rendition, perfect and exact.
I am in awe of this art and humbled to be able to step into it, to even begin to smell something which is still largely imperceptible to me. How much larger is the world than I know it to be? I think it must be infinite in a way I can hardly comprehend.