And just like that another year has gone by. Or should I say flown by?
Time goes by fast. Everyone knows that. Still many people live their lives like if they were immortals. I look around and every minute I am reminded on how quickly time passes. Every time my 16 months daughter learns something new, develops a new skill, learns a new word, or manages to keep her balance more and more as she tries to run, I am reminded that I am getting older; that time is passing away.
This Holiday season I had the pleasure to spend a week back home in Puerto Rico with my family. My parents volunteered to babysit the kids for a day, so my wife and I headed to the beach. We went to Playa Sucia, in Cabo Rojo, one of the most breathtaking beaches in the whole island. As I sat there, staring at the scenery, taking a few pictures, I realized that I wasn’t going to be there much longer. Soon it would be time to go, and that moment of me sitting next to my wife at a beautiful beach in the Caribbean will soon no longer exist. I tried to soaked it up. I tried wholeheartedly to be there and no where else. I didn’t care about anything except for what was right then, in front of my eyes.
SOKU KON MOKU ZEN
The first time I came across the calligraphy of SOKU KON MOKU ZEN, was in 1998 when I was training in Chicago under Fumio Toyoda Shihan. Sensei had brushed the calligraphy and was carving it in a beautiful piece of wood. The uchideshi were helping him carve it and paint it. Once it was done, we hung it in the small living room in the uchideshi quarters. I liked it so much that I snapped a picture. I have kept that picture all these years.
Of course when I started learning Japanese Calligraphy, SOKU KON MOKU ZEN was one of the calligraphies I started brushing. But it wasn’t until recently that I have felt the characters have truly come to life for me.
SOKU KON MOKU ZEN translates as “right now, before your eyes”. It speaks of one of the deepest teachings of Zen and the martial arts: to take care of what it’s front of you in this moment. When you walk, just walk. When you eat, just eat. Concentrate fully in what it is in front of you and nothing else.
Now, I don’t pretend that I live every single day like it was my last one. Truthfully I think that’s unrealistic for many of us. We do need to think of the future. We do need to make decisions that will benefit us in days, months, or years to come. However what I am reminded of when thinking of SOKU KON MOKU ZEN is to give my full attention to whatever it is that I am doing at the present moment.
The calligraphy of SOKU KON MOKU ZEN is composed by the following Kanji: 即 (SOKU, instantly) 今 (KON, now) 目 (MOKU, eyes) 前 (ZEN, in front). The characters are fairly simple with the most complex one (ZEN) having only 9 strokes. What I find challenging is maintaining the balance between the characters when having two minimal characters in the center.
If you have been waiting to start anything, the moment to do it is now.