I got up extra early on February 26th. It was the day to attend the monthly tea service held at the Buddhist temple where I go to collect what I call “pieces of peace.” But I still was not feeling up to going out, dragging on from the day before. I needed extra time to get myself off my heavily weighted and super-glued bum.
I also needed extra time to get dressed in the traditional wear I chose for the day: Maybe you remember seeing it before here? The plum blossoms were in full bloom everywhere, so I thought it would be perfect to wear it and have others enjoy its beautiful work.
It was passed down to me from a relative, and it originally came with this sash, custom-ordered together with the traditional wear:
But as they were made before I was born, they are tailored to fit an average body shape of generations before me, so everything (and let me emphasize “everything”) is shorter and tighter for me… it always takes a couple of tries, at least, to make myself look decent in them!
So, when I finally got my bum peeled off and lifted, I stood extra nervous in front of the mirror – will I be able to get dressed in time? I only wear it during the time plum blossoms are in bloom, so I need time to refresh my memory on how best to wear it every year I take it out. But, as I had already worn it on this occasion, I had a relatively (and let me emphasize “relatively”) easy time with it. So far so good!
Then came the sash. Feeling on a roll, I thought… prayed I could breeze through it as well. But, my prayers were not answered – no matter how many times I tried, it just would not go right! I was quickly running out of time, even though I woke up extra early. I felt defeated, but I decided to go with plan B:
Maybe you remember seeing it before here? It is my go-to sash when all else fails, but although it does not fail to match any traditional wear I have in my possession, I feel it never quite fully succeeds either. So, despite valuing its high utility, I always feel like I am cheating and feel unhappy and uncomfortable putting it on.
Nevertheless, thanks to its coming to rescue once again, I made it to the last round of tea service. I had a very nice time, and it made me very glad I did not let my bum tie me down and miss such a wonderful experience. But something even better was waiting in line.
After the service, as I went up to the host to thank for her hospitality, she praised me on my outfit. I felt extremely guilty cheating, so I confessed to the sash being my plan B. But she did not condemn or criticize me for cheating – instead, she applauded me for finding another sash that did not hinder the beauty of the traditional wear, and said “is it not evidence that you have now truly made it yours?”
I suddenly realized that maybe I was too hung up on the fact that this traditional wear was not originally mine.
Maybe I was feeling like I was cheating when I put on my own sash instead of the one made to match, because it made me cheat myself to try so hard to fit in it.
Maybe I was unhappy and uncomfortable because I did not feel quite myself in it… maybe it felt like I was not living in my own skin.
And although I am not sure if I really have been able to make this traditional wear truly mine, I think I now know why I choose this sash to make it more mine – maybe it is because I value making myself equally useful to everyone I interact with. When will I know I have made it as such a person, and the one and only me?
Maybe when I can call this sash my plan A.
By the way, this is the missing seventh of eight verses of a sacred chant praying for world peace:
The four Chinese characters say “people appreciate the virtues of others and commit to loving and cherishing them” – the way I want to make myself useful, articulated!
As I make this post on March 19, 2017, I am thinking, now that I have the complete chant, of doing a little something to make these pieces of peace stay fresh in my mind and close to my heart… details to come very soon, don’t miss it!