The Value of Mess – June 27, 2014, Kim Taylor, Renshi, CI Sei Do Kai Guelph ON, Nanadan

Without the darkness there can be no light, or maybe nature abhors a vacuum?

I cleaned off my memory card in my camera and when I reformatted it to see that I had 2854 more photos to take I had a great urge to go out and photograph something.

I cleaned up a large pile of rippings under my shop bench and swept the floor which caused me to make a dozen or more ash bo (at 1.25 inches by six feet of both octagonal and round variety by the way, if anyone wants to take them off my hands, the fellow they were made for has dropped off the grid). I also got into another corner of the shop and glued up and made a bunch of walking sticks, something I love doing even though there’s no market for them.

Thing is, when the mess is sitting there for years I have no desire, really to do anything with it, but clean up that space (finally) and I seem to have a great desire to start working which will produce the stuff to make the mess again.

The teacher once poured tea for the student, he poured and poured until the student had to shout stop as the cup was overflowing. The teacher said “you are like the full cup, there’s no room for anything more”. I feel that way quite a lot, the old head is full of mess and it takes something like a good cleanup of the old images and the old piles of scrap to get room for some new stuff.

Students who say “I know” tend to be like the mess in the corner to me, it’s fine, it’s full, leave it alone. Trying to teach a student who has all the answers is like pouring more tea in a full cup, a waste of everyone’s time. It’s no good trying to tell the full cup that there’s room for more, there isn’t. Best to just empty it out.

Now emptying a student of all their “knowledge” isn’t as easy as it once was, used to be that I could say “oh yes?” and throw them across the room to land in a heap. Now they’re younger and stronger and a lot more bouncy and if they’ve been around for a while they know all my little tricks so I have to be content to peck away at the corners. Sort of like re-stacking the rippings when I sweep the floor rather than actually throwing them all out the door and sorting them to make something.

But students really aren’t much of a problem, they eventually go away and stop bothering me, no it’s my own messy head that I have to clean out regularly so that there’s an empty spot which is just begging to be messed up again.

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