Who is ko-Rilakkuma? S/he is a little white baby bear who appeared out of nowhere
Rilakkuma is a character like Hello Kitty and the San Rio animals. His name is a contraction of “relax” and the Japanese word for bear. He and all his friends have a back story, personality, and a mountain of themed merchandise.
This was the upholstery on the chairs on the bus I rode to work. Isn’t it disgustingly cute? I love it! This is why I love Japan!
Okra is a delicious little plant. It’s tiny, thumb sized, in fact. They look like little people wearing little green hats and they’re fuzzy all over. When you cut open an okra fruit it is sticky and sappy on the inside. Boil it slightly and the outer skin softens just enough that when you bite down on one it makes a pleasant “pakki!” feeling against your teeth. The fuzzy outside feels rough on your tongue, like sandpaper that melts in your mouth.
Inside there are little round seeds. Coated in the sticky sap of the fruit, they pop into your mouth as you bite down. Smooth and silky they contrast against the roughness of the outer skin.
Okra is a delicious little plant. The chance to eat a fresh bite of okra fills me with energy and excitement. Even my eyes open a little wider at the thought.
It seems like a silly realization, almost a waste of bytes to record, but yesterday it occurred to me that friends are very good. They restore me after my lonely hours spent in my head at work, they calm me, they energize me, motivate me, encourage me and give me a reason to get out of bed in the morning. Just the chance to see my friends is enough to turn an entire day around.
A master in the art of living draws no sharp distinction between [her] work and [her] play, [her] labour and [her] leisure, [her] mind and [her] body, [her] education and [her] recreation. [S]he hardly knows which is which. [S]he simply pursues [her] vision of excellence through whatever [s]he is doing and leaves others to determine whether [s]he is working or playing. To [her]self s/he always seems to be doing both. Enough for [her] that [s]he does it well.
–Lawrence Pearsall Jacks, 1932
I first heard this quote while browsing through the archives of an online Q&A session about leaving academia. To many academics, the delicate balance between work and play is both our motivation and our downfall. With no supervisor or fixed schedule, and with the measures of our success spread out over decades, we are constantly plagued with the uncertainty and the incessant wondering: have we worked enough?
The truth is that an academic should never ask herself if she has worked enough. To be in academia is to shun the world’s notion of success and to pursue passion and knowledge for the sake of the pursuit.
I am slowly internalizing the truth of this passage. I wake in the morning when it pleases me and sometimes I work right away, and sometimes I sit around playing games. I take naps when I am sleepy, think when I run, drink when I write and teach while I socialize. On a holistic level I am certainly much happier, more tolerant of others and more creative. However there are difficulties in applying this philosophy.
The master of life leaves others to determine whether she is working or playing. This is perhaps the most difficult part of the application. It would be lovely if each of us as individuals could determine our destinies, but like it or not we exist in a society which is governed by a culture. Our culture determines whether or not we are successful and whether or not we are deserving of our fate and for most of us, our culture believes that hard work which results in failure merits sympathy while too much play merits disdain.
Thus, the master in the art of life is also a master in the art of human relationships. For she must simultaneously satisfy her craving to play with her need to appear to those around her as an honest member of society. Perhaps the master is someone who has found a way to get paid to play, so that the distinction becomes meaningless to everyone.
Do you ever notice yourself wishing that “If they would only just add that extra lane, then my commute would be so much easier!” or “If only guys would just wake up and realize that women do not like getting cat called on the street” or maybe, “If I could just stop worrying about how I look I could enjoy myself so much more”? Chances are that if you’ve caught yourself wishing once, you’ve probably done it a thousand times. Maybe you’re a problem solver, or you’re one of those people who always has a project going on, whether it’s self improvement, home improvement or society improvement. If this sounds like you, then you sound like me and we both have a problem: It’s problem solving.
The other day it occurred to me that I’ve been in therapy, or “life coaching” as my therapist likes to say, for just over a year now. I’ve come a long way and yet after every problem I solve, whether it’s me or the world, I turn the corner to discover yet another problem. And they’re always the kind of problems that “if only I could…” then everything in my life would be ok. It occurred to me that the problems will never go away and the more energy I spend on trying to solve them, the less energy I spend enjoying all the success I’ve built into my life this far. I thought to myself that maybe, just maybe, if I stop thinking of them as problems then they might just go away on their own.
I’ve never lived a life with no problems, so I don’t know if I’d recognize one if it hit me in the face. Who knows? I may not have any problems already, but if I never stop trying to solve problems, then I’ll never know.