Calligraphy classes were the one of positive things to come out of my time in Beijing. Other positive things included new friends, adventures, tastes, smells, our daughter, ok the list is endless!
But since this blog is linked to my jewellery that was inspired by calligraphy, I think it’s worthwhile to recount my experiences in these classes.
Our teacher, Paul Wang, thought me to focus on my inner calm. One must be relaxed and not tense to practice calligraphy. I didn’t really have these attributes hence my calligraphy wasn’t the best in the class to say the least. I had always lived my life at a pace, stressed at work, I would opt for high-energy fitness classes over yoga, drink a little too much and all in all left very little time for any sort of body and mind awareness!
We would begin with breathing exercises and stretches. Focusing on planting your feet firmly into the ground, we would close our eyes and focus on our posture and breathing. By planting your feet into into the ground, your posture and positioning improves – apparently. It really did bring a sense of calm. We would stop at varying points of the class to practice this calming technique. If you can breathe freely, which you will when your posture is correct, you can feel the style of calligraphy and brush better. After about 45 minutes of class, I always lose my sense of calm, rather than breathing freely, I hold my breath with anxiety and anticipation of getting it just right. So we revert to closing our eyes, breathing and posture.
For me, calligraphy class helped me focus on relaxing and my inner calm. I guess it helped me slow down, take time out with you get anxious and reflect on the importance of being de stressed. I was lucky to find these classes when I was unhappy in Beijing. It helped me reflect on the important things in life., to step back and breathe.
I remember when I would sit in calligraphy class all relaxed, breathing relaxed and my brush flowing easily, I would relish on the fact that was doing something creative, something that had been rare since leaving school. Since school, it had been study, study, work, work all involving numbers. I’m a qualified accountant by profession!
Once, I started calligraphy I allowed myself to do more creative projects and I love it. I enjoy painting furniture now (chalk paint is amazing!), obviously sketching jewellery designs, make wreaths and decorations for all occasions.
Beijing is a random place. Well it is if you are from Ireland like me and although I had travelled to Asia, Africa and South American on trips and saw random things, its not quite the same as living in a place. On holiday, its just holiday, it’s a chance to peek at a different world but when it becomes your reality its very different and for me it hit me hard. However, one of the most random and funny things happened at class that really reflect what my time in Beijing was like.
One morning in September, we are heading in our car (with my driver – more on the driver in another piece) to calligraphy class. We are driving along the narrow street, and unusually we drive past the entrance, the driver realizes he has missed the gate when Lucie and I look at the window to see a pile of rubble. The site where the China Culture Centre building had stood was now was just bricks on the ground. We gasped in shock and amazement and started to laugh. ‘She never said the centre had changed location for today’s class?” I exclaim, very puzzled. Lucie confirms that neither did she hear the building had changed only there had been a mention of it early in the summer. If it wasn’t for the mini digger and the men in the yard with the rubble who looked like construction workers, you d have thought a bomb had been dropped on the building and war had been declared! Luckily, sights like this are not uncommon and Beijingers wouldn’t believe there was a war unless they saw the bombs dropping from the sky with their own eyes!
The driver eventually saw what we were looking at and the car load of us burst into laughter. Luckily after a quick phone call to Paul our teacher we are told the new building is just up the road. We arrive to find that our class is in a building under construction, which is not at all complete. In Europe, one would need a hard-hat and special boots to enter this building. However, it seems perfectly acceptable for young women in flip flops to enter the building and out into the back yard, where there is nails, glass, bricks………other building materials just everywhere (no prizes here clearly for neat and tidy work spaces!) and use the service lift with the workmen.
So this reflected life quite well, no one informs you if there is going to be a major change, like location for a class you booked and health and safety is non -existent!