Wednesday, April 17, 2019

So What?!

Like much of the social-cultural practices encountered by me during my first of 30 years practicing chanoyu with a traditional master teacher, it was many years before I realized why so many of the tea folk in our shibu had similar first names, those beginning with So ... They were listed in the front of the directory, alpha by last name, followed by other folks, alpha by last name. Since it was one of many, many questions I might have asked of those who seemed more entrenched in the way, I gave it up as a priority.

When it appeared that a chamei, professional name indicating a level of accomplishment (or endurance), would be mine, one evening in okeiko, something like the following transpired:

Sensei: I wonder what you tea name gonna be.

Me: I’d love to be So Nu, Sensei.

Sensei: Iemoto will pick it.

Me: Sensei … is there any way that I can be So Nu (putting down chashakuscoop, holding hands like two juggling balls in the air just went up as two coming down, eyebrows in an ironic uplift). EEdish-go, sensei … So Nu?!

Sensei: So Chi, So Do …?

Me: It could mean that I’m still a baby after 30 years sitting seizaand still only a beginner … or would that be presumptuous, like Suzuku’s Beginner’s Mind. If only, Sensei …

Sensei: So I, like Do I Chi? (The way a Japanese person would say Deutsch, as in the land of Germany.)

Me: It’d be OK if it were So La … like Do, Rei, Me … Fa … Da … Da …Ti … Do!