One of those days that the brain just refuses to work. I'm in a cafe which food smells pretty good, and I'm trying not to think about food until Leo gets off work and then we can go eat together.
There is therefore time to do a brain dump to process the month past.
After getting back from a vacation in Taipei early this month, in which I actually rested, I came back feeling very much refreshed and ready to get into things again. This was quickly challenged by a barrage of deadlines, of various job/event applications and a writing deadline, causing me to miss two weekends in a row. The third weekend was hit by Chinese New Year (like a freight train), so now I'm again in a daze. There are certain times when I drift off in my thoughts and have this anxious feeling that there's probably a deadline somewhere that I'm missing, or should be working on. Then I realise that everything is ok, I just need to work and rest with regularity and there is nothing to be stressed about.
Is January almost over? Am I going to live 2020 like 2019, the year that draws a blank in my memory? Something has to be done about living life too fast. The pattern seems to be clear. Deadlines keep my eyes on certain points in the future, and travelling (mostly work-related) warps time as I know it. I forget to live my daily life, and with that, I forget how to live my daily life. How could I remember, when the last "everyday" that I had was about four months ago? Yeah. Gotta figure this out.
January health wins permalink
That being said, January has been pretty good in terms of routines related to health. I've been swimming or going to the park, every morning. It's been great for my mental health and creativity, not to mention the physical benefits that comes from all the activity. A week ago I bought a wooden bucket and have been treating myself to foot baths pretty much nightly. So far it seems that it's been helping with my sleep, even though I will need to do it for the longer term to see if it actually works or if it's just the chronic fatigue speaking. The challenge is to keep it up even when disrupted.
Self study on Chinese art permalink
From Taiwan I brought back about 15 books on various aspects on Chinese history and aesthetics, and I feel that my education has just begun. It started off with wanting to know more about Chinese art, which then moved into calligraphy, because the lines and dots form the foundation of Chinese painting. Since Chinese art has such a different trajectory as Western art, I need to learn more about how to appreciate it and what the aesthetics are, which brings us to philosophy. But how do you understand philosophy if you don't understand the history of the culture?
The last book that I bought, in the airport, was a book on Chinese ancient history. I also bought a few on Chinese art history, a book that compares between Chinese and Western art, one on Chinese philosophy in modern times, a few on calligraphy... So I've built myself some sort of makeshift curriculum based on the books that I've bought, with the idea that if I can finish reading (and absorbing) all the books that I bought, by the end of this year I will be much more awesome than the awesome self I am now.
But what is study without practice? For that I've enrolled myself into a weekly Chinese painting class, and if that goes well I'll also get myself a calligraphy teacher. To keep myself creating I've also started to make a composition a day, which is grounded in Western art, inspired by a book called "Mastering Composition". So far I'm about a week in and I'm going to try to keep it for as long as I can do it, since I have been paying more attention to my surroundings to try to catch compositions. I also have this big itch to do some oil painting, and am waiting for a worthy composition to come by so that I can work on colours with it.
I guess all things considered January has been a good month, with more ups than downs. Things are in flux all the time - I cannot see more than one month ahead - which takes some energy to manage, but I think I'm learning from last year, to keep to good routines to anchor myself amidst chaos. Trying also to keep track of all the things that I'm learning, which is in itself an interesting challenge, since I always get distracted and either undermine or overestimate my own abilities in my explorations.