While my parents were living in Bombay, they acquired an ornate wood carving of the elephant-headed god Ganesha and displayed him in our apartment, more as a decorative object than as a religious icon. They were extremely fond of this sculpture (my father still treasures him to this day) and called him by his other popular name, Ganapati, or, affectionately, Gumpy, for short. As a baby, I must have seen this figure hundreds of times and developed some sort of attachment to him, perhaps because of his plump, childlike form dancing a comical version of the mystical Dance of Creation and Destruction that his father, Shiva, performs. When it came time for me, at around my first birthday to utter my first word, it was not “Mama” or “Papa.” It was “Gump.” Not surprisingly, Ganesha has been a special figure in my life, and since material possessions can often turn into obstacles, I chose to give away a Ganesha today.
“The best things in life are not things.”
A while back, when I saw this on a bumper sticker on the car in front of me, I sat thinking to myself, “Yes!” These words really sum up my feelings about life and about stuff. Sure, some of our stuff is great. I love this laptop that I have been writing merrily away on for the last year or so. I love some of my clothes (especially my cardigans and my boots!) and I do love the convenience of my smart phone. However, these things make my life convenient and comfortable. They are not the things that make me happy.
(This is an extra post that I thought would be fun to share – a compilation of stats from WordPress about how many viewers the blogpost had, etc. Was interesting for me to see. Thought you might enjoy it too. I’ll be doing my regular Giveaway post later in the day.)
The WordPress.com stats helper monkeys prepared a 2015 annual report for this blog.
Here’s an excerpt:
The concert hall at the Sydney Opera House holds 2,700 people. This blog was viewed about 10,000 times in 2015. If it were a concert at Sydney Opera House, it would take about 4 sold-out performances for that many people to see it.
Throughout this year, I have included many friends from different parts of my life in this Giveaway project – friends in Scotland, Canada, England, the United States – but I sadly left out many dear friends in Japan. This isn’t because I don’t feel grateful to them for all they have done for me in my life. On the contrary, I carry a debt to Japan and my Japanese friends that I will never be able to repay. Rather, it’s because I communicate with most of them in Japanese and it would be too hard for me to write about them in Japanese – and impossible for my regular readers to read what I write. But today, before the year ended, I wanted to send a gift to one family in Japan who have been very special in my life and who, in many ways represent the immense kindness that I have felt from my Japanese friends since I first visited the country when I was 21.
I wish I could say that by this point in my Giveaway, I’ve become a real pro at elegantly matching gifts and recipients and smoothly executing the delivery. But, alas, a few days from the end, I’m as chaotic and disorganized as I’ve been for much of the year.
With five days of giving left to go,
I’d hoped all the de-cluttering would show.
But even though now we own much less,
Shelves and counters are still a mess.
Like many people, I am always trying to improve myself and find ways to live more fully and more mindfully. This Giveaway project has been a large part of my recent efforts, one that has forced me to de-clutter my material surroundings, strengthen my relationships and hone my writing skills. Including writing as a path towards self-improvement has been a recent practice. More typically I have turned to reading the advice of others to help me become a better person, buying numerous books over the years to help me become a better parent, a better partner, a better eater, and a more thoughtful and greener consumer.
I enjoy Christmas as a festival celebrating family and loved ones, and I particularly enjoy celebrating Christmas with our son Theo, who like most children, enjoy the anticipation of this special day of trees, gifts and songs. (Santa no longer plays a role for him now that he’s 10). But not being a Christian, I haven’t felt a real connection to the true reason for the Holiday. To my sister-in-law Judy, however, the Holiday has a very different meaning.
When I’m scrolling through Facebook, among the photos that make me smile the most are those of my friend Dave and his adorable son George cheering on their favorite rugby teams, frolicking in exotic places like Italy and New Zealand, or just gobbling down ice cream together on a rare warm day in London. Dave is such a great dad, and I know it hasn’t been easy for him.
I met Frances over 20 years ago in London when we were working on our Masters degrees in Asian art at London University’s School of Oriental and African Studied (SOAS). Her main field of interest was Chinese art and mine was Japanese, so we didn’t take many classes together – only a course in Chinese ceramics, which was highlight of my Masters program. We didn’t know each other terribly well, but I believe we respected each other’s knowledge and work ethic. After I graduated I ended up moving West to California, and Frances moved East to Hong Kong, working as an editor for an illustrious Asian art magazine, an impressive position in a profession with sadly few employment opportunities.