If you happened to be at my studio when I first arrive, you might be surprised to see what I do first.
It goes back to my days of living in a Zen Temple, and studying martial arts. When entering the building, you would change into a training uniform, but upon entering the training area, be it a room or a matted area, you would always bow. Why do that? We don’t bow going into a gym or our living room.
It is because a training space, or dojo, is regarded as a sacred space. Not necessarily sacred in the sense of a church, or God. But sacred in the sense that this is a special place, a place due respect. A place where you leave the outside world at the edge of the mat, and step into another world. And the goal is to be 100% in that space when you are there. You also bow out of the space when you leave, for the same reasons.
When I enter my studio for the first time in the morning, I will put down whatever stuff I happen to be carrying in my hands, (Coffee, keys…) and go directly into the main shop area. There I do a full bow before entering. After the bow, I proceed to a little altar behind my bench. There I light some incense, and ask for the opportunity to do good work, and assistance in carrying that out.
Why do I do that? There are many reasons, some tied to my spiritual beliefs that I won’t go into now. The simplest answer is that I view my studio, and also my entire business, as an opportunity to learn and grow. I find that both wood and business can be unforgiving teachers where if you make a mistake or are doing something wrong, there are very real consequences. If my attention or drive falters, I am usually reminded in one way or another. My best work always comes when I am able to put the world down, and just create with my hands. Is that the norm? Hardly! Sometimes it feels more like the exception. But by bowing into the space in the morning, I am declaring my intent, regardless of how well I carry it out.
And a funny thing. Things always, always go better when I do it, and worse when I don’t.
Lastly, you might ask about the sax playing raisin. He is one of many objects I have on my altar. Someday I will go through each one and explain the significance.
This guy, for those old enough to remember, is a figure from a California Raisin promotion. He is there to remind me that even though I am not currently playing professionally, I am still a sax player.
That’s it for now. I hope to see you at Paradise City Arts!