Everybody has the potential to be who they want to be. All we need is for something, or someone, to point us in the right direction.
In 2006 I found that thing: a white Intel iMac.
This was huge for me. For one, it was quite an expensive computer, around $1,700, and I paid for it myself while working full time as a line cook. It had been 2 years since I’ve owned a computer. The old HP Laptop had had enough and one day it just stop working. My college life had ruined it. But I had a Mac now. I was cool. It was really big and super powerful and didn’t get any viruses. But I didn’t know how to use it. However, I was determined to learn how to maximize its potential.
My Shodo practice reached a crossroad around 2008. I was studying directly with Maki Sensei and brushing a lot. And I mean a lot. I asked myself: what am I going to do with all these calligraphies I’m making?
It had been over 10 years since I’ve built that little website for Goshinkan Dojo. I had forgotten all about HTML. I found out things were much easier now though. My iMac had iWeb! It was super easy to build a website. All I needed to do was drag and drop. So I decided to create a virtual studio. The physical one was a spare room in my apartment, which I lost when Jasper was born. I named the studio GOHITSU, after my first dojo GOSHINKAN. I bought the domain name and in November of 2009 GOHITSU SHODO STUDIO went online.
My uncle was my first costumer. However, months went by before I had another one. No one knew I had a website. I didn’t know how to market myself. There was no social media– Facebook was still a place where your friends actually hung out.
In the summer of 2010 Apple, once again, released a product that completely changed my life. As a kid I always wanted to make movies, but I never had the resources. Cameras were too expensive, editing software required fancy computers. Suddenly, all these problems had been eliminated when Apple released the iPhone 4. This thing had an HD 720p video camera. Not only that, but they also released iMovie, their free editing software, to run on the iPhone. I could now shoot, edit, and publish a video right from my iPhone. Holy Shit.
I shot my first videos with the iPhone 4. I edited them on my computer using iMovie but didn’t publish them. That’s ok. They were pretty bad.
While the iPhone 4 was a great step forward towards creating content, I didn’t get serious until my inlaws gifted us a Nikon D3100 for Christmas in 2010. They gave us the camera so we could take nice pictures of our newborn baby. But I immediately knew I could do much more with it. The only problem was, well, I didn’t know how to use a DSLR! So I turned to YouTube for education. While learning about how to use my camera through videos other people like me published, I realized how my own videos about Shodo needed to be. I said to myself: “if I make videos about Shodo the same way this guy is making videos about technology, I can find an audience”.
Unfortunately, I deleted some of those early videos, but I have a few ones on YouTube that were filmed with the iPhone 4 and published later. They’re not great, but I’m super proud of them. I haven’t looked back and I’ve been making videos since.
With the website I reached a point where I had to re-learn everything. In 2011 Apple killed iWeb. I was lost. There wasn’t anything similar to it in terms of ease of use. I soon faced the reality that if I wanted to have a real website I needed to learn WordPress.
WordPress intimidated me. This wasn’t an easy drag and drop deal. The thing felt like I was going under the hood. In a way it remind me of my early days with HTML, except now there was also CSS, and JAVA jargon. There were themes, split into main theme and child themes. There were style sheets and plugins. I drove Rachel crazy because I was changing my website two or three times a year. She wasn’t particularly fond of the time I installed a new theme and the website completely broke in the middle of a family trip. I spent most of the trip glued to my laptop trying to fix it.
My point of telling you this long story is simply to say that if there is a will, there is a way. We can’t do everything by ourselves. Sometimes we need the right tools to accomplish our goals. But in order to learn how to use those tools you need to invest time, energy, and endless sleepless nights practicing and figuring it out even if the results are not great in the beginning.
This journey led me to where I am today. I shoot my videos on both my iPhone 6s and a Nikon D5300. I use an external microphone to record audio. I have studio lights. I edit on Final Cut Pro X. I have 160 videos on YouTube with almost a half a million views. The website runs on the latest version of WordPress and is as simple and as functional as it ever been.
My journey with technology is paralleled to mine with Aikido and Shodo. It took me many attempts to succeed. Sometimes you have to take a break from it all and come back a few years later with a different point of view to be able to move forward.