Thoughts for No One in Particular

In the eye of the beholder



This is my folding fan I take with me when having tea in the traditional form. It is smaller than ordinary hand fans used, say, as instruments to create wind by waving. But it is an extremely important item. It is so important, it has the teachings of the founder of the art form written all over on both sides of the fan!


Maybe you want to know why it is so important.

Because it is at the basis of all manners we follow – to respect and appreciate the occasion, the setting, and all your company. We must learn how to use it before we are ever taught how to make tea.


Well then, maybe you wonder how it is used.

Actually, it stays folded throughout tea time! It acts as a border, literally “drawing a line” between yourself and the objects of your respect and appreciation, and showing humility by remaining behind the line.


(The only exception is when gifts are exchanged, in which case fans are used as trays, unfolding it and placing the gifts on top when passing them to the intended receivers.)


By now, maybe you are thinking “that’s interesting, but it’s probably seen only in this particular art form.”

Oooh, Nooo! A few weeks ago, I went to see another form of traditional art, our version of stand-up comedy (but performed sitting down). The comedians do their acts with the aid of a couple of props – hand towels, and you guessed it, fans. They use fans to represent all sorts of things… if folded, as writing utensils, chopsticks, smoking pipes, fishing rods, and swords; if unfolded, as cups and abaci (calculators in the olden days), just to name a few. And they can also produce sound effects… tap on the floor to pretend someone knocked on the door, and bend the bones to make squeaky noise mimicking rowing sounds.


So, maybe I have amazed you with my people’s clever and witty usage of fans.

But I found out today it is not just my people who push the boundaries of what fans can be. On my way home tonight, I came across a group of performers of Spanish dance and music doing a free show at a train station (I will scribble about how I came across them in another post), and whaddayaknow, there was a number in which the dancers moved fans to resemble snails!


Maybe until today, you thought a fan is just a fan… nothing other than a thing that cools or refreshes you.

But maybe now you see the limitless possibilities to what roles it can take on.

And maybe it will make you see other things in new ways that you have never imagined before.

Maybe it will even make you change the way you view yourself – I mean, if a fan can be whatever it pleases to be, why can’t you?


Maybe beauty is not the only thing that is in the eye of the beholder.

Maybe all sorts of possibilities are there, if only you choose to seek them out.

So keep your eyes open… maybe even the unimaginable and unthinkable will become visible one day, the birthday for new you!


4 thoughts on “In the eye of the beholder

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