Avoiding One’s True Self

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Meito Shodokai (明藤書道会) is a Japanese calligraphy school based in Redmond, Washington that has been around for eleven years. My only experience with the school is secondhand, so I can’t speak much about them. I have a book from the 10th anniversary event with photos of many works and have watched video of Fujii-sensei writing a large work, but beyond that I only know what I have read and heard. This post is not about the school, but rather how their anniversary is affecting some of my thinking.

My mother sent me the book and a nice T-shirt with the anniversary party commemorative shuji work duplicated on it. The phrase selected was kishin, which has been translated as “returning to one’s true self”. When first reading this two character phrase and its explanation I was impressed: the idea of not getting distracted or diluted seems very positive.

Also, instead of the current, standard forms of the characters, 帰真; older variants were chosen, 歸眞. I have a particular fondness for the older versions: more nostalgic, more romantic, more mysterious, … Here’s an image of the original. And a video of it being drawn, if you’re interested.

Recently I have been thinking about other facets of this concept, particularly how it applies to me. When I was young, I spent a lot of time goofing off, playing games, and avoiding responsibility. I have gone through phases of working hard at things, including spending most of my 20s flying around the globe, burning the midnight oil for my company. But there are always phases of setting responsibilities aside and goofing around.

So, how do I determine which is my true self? It seems the slacker is the inherent character trait, and it takes a concerted effort to move forward and stay focussed. In that sense, I figure it might be better to “Avoid one’s true self” and keep thinking about what it takes to make one’s self better. For me, that probably means not pushing so hard, so that I don’t burn out so hard and don’t need as much recovery time.

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3 Responses to “Avoiding One’s True Self”

  1. Keven Says:

    An interesting question to try and answer. The natural temptation of the body and mind tends towards energy-conservation: ie sloth. I think it is only because we derive pleasure from accomplishing things that we do anything.

    You’re starting to sound like an anime character. They are always wondering about their true self… 🙂

  2. びっくり Says:

    Yeah, I’m ready to join the Evangelion project. You are definitely correct that things like pleasure motivate people. Clearly some folks need money, power, recognition, love, etc. I think one of my main motivators is learning. I have always enjoyed gaining knowledge.

  3. Finding One's True Self « Neo-新びっくりブログ Says:

    […] One’s True Self Mid-May I wrote about the concept of returning to one’s true self and how that might not be so good if your true self is less than ideal. A couple friends gave me a […]

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