When Sharon (my wife) and I met in the middle sixties, I also met a Japanese man who had been the intercollegiate judo champion of Japan in the early 60’s and almost a kamikaze pilot at the end of the war. He was a very interesting person. Among the noticeable things he showed me was how he could break a canoe paddle with his hand and that he could read some Chinese.From him, I learned that the Chinese alphabet is pictographic. I remember this because the characters for happiness and sadness were similar. Happiness was depicted as a house with a wife in it. Sadness was a house with two wives in it.
The pictograph for today is carved by my son and means “iron”. He carved it for a friend who was playing in a band named Iron Will. I’ve stared at it for some time and cannot see how this is a picture of iron. Doubtless, someone who reads this can explain it to me. I’d be grateful if you would.
I’ve often wondered if those of us who have tattoos that depict Chinese characters and think they are wearing something that says, say, courage, might be actually bearing a mark that is very much less complimentary. Still with all this confusion and lack of understanding, I find this carving beautiful and powerful in a way. It has balance and a presence.
I am limited by my eye. I see very little of this carving, but it still reaches me. It teaches me to trust what I see and let it have its effect on me. After all, it’s the only eye I have.