Today, however, I found myself wooed into taking a time out, and going to the pool. I did not admit to myself that it was a time out. I did not go with the intent to NOT DO something, but reasoned that I could get some much-needed exercise AND cool off at the same time. I took a hat and my phone, in case I needed to check my emails or answer a call or look something up on the internet. I'm always prepared to DO something.
The moment happened, though, when I found myself floating on my back in an otherwise empty pool, arms outstretched, eyes closed, doing NOTHING but breathing, gently, slowly, and quietly until all I sensed was breath and water. Breath and water...
My beloved art of water marbling was born in breath and water. Suminagashi (墨 流 し) is the ancient Japanese technique of decorating paper with inks. It is believed to be the oldest form of marbling, originating in China over 2,000 years ago and practiced in Japan by Shinto priests as early as the 12th century. Suminagashi (sue-me-NAH-gah-she), which means literally “ink-floating” involves doing just that.
Japanese Sumi-e inks were originally used, dropped carefully to float on a still water surface and then blown across to form delicate swirls, after which the ink was picked up by laying a sheet of white rice paper atop the ink covered water.
Water and breath. In suminigashi, no tools are used to directly manipulate the inks. The artists uses only the breath, or wind created by fanning with the hand, moving across the surface of the water, to create graceful designs that evoke images of mountains, lakes, forests and streams, flowers and trees, earth and the heavens.
Today, I was the ink, not the artist. And that, I think, is utterly beautiful.