Categories
Inspiration

Wabi-Sabi – the Japanese aesthetic of beauty

We live in a world where new is good – perfection is strived for – and young is beauty.  We thought however that we would share with you today a beautiful aesthetic that the Japanese believe in – it is the principal of Wabi-Sabi.  In a nutshell, wabi-sabi is the Japanese art of finding beauty in imperfection and accepting the natural cycle of growth.  It is simple, uncluttered and it values authenticity above all else.  Wabi-Sabi is about flea markets instead of big box stores and malls; it’s about aging wood not laminate.  The principals of wabi-sabi celebrate crack and crevices and believe that it is a sign that loving has left behind.

It is so easy to disgard what isn’t new and forget what has aged – but stop and look closely next time at a pot that isn’t perfect – a flower that isn’t fully standing tall – or the aged face of the people around you – they all have a story to tell.

old-man oldwoman

Categories
General Inspiration

Power of People

This is a commercial shot at Liverpool station for T-Mobile – but we were struck by and reminded of the power of people and what happens when they work together – powerful…

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=VQ3d3KigPQM]

Categories
Inspiration Tea

Itzhak Perlman, Dung Ti Oolong and being in the presence of Greatness (Part 2)

We recommend reading Part 1 of this piece before Part 2 to fully appreciate our meaning.  As in the first part of this post – you can click on the link on the right hand side under Liquid Visions and hear Perlman playing Bach for the full experience.

Perhpas you’re scratching your head and wondering what the relation is between Itzhak Perlman and Dung Ti Oolong – or any tea for that matter.  The relation is quite simple – it’s Greatness.  For a tea lover, answering the question – which tea is your favourite – is incredibly difficult.  For all the reasons that I love tea, I am hard pressed to narrow down my answer to one.  The types, styles and flavours of tea vary so greatly that a different one can be chosen to fit a time of day, the temperature in the air or the mood in your heart.  If however I must choose – then I choose a category – and that is Oolong. 

dung tiMany people will argue that Oolongs are the most complex teas to produce.  So much of the end resulting flavours will depend entirely on the skills of the tea master who has produced your tea.  Oolongs are partially oxidized teas.  They are picked and wilted in the sun for a short period of time.  They are then placed in baskets and shaken in order to bruise the leaves.  This bruising process allows the juices/enzymes within the leaves to be exposed to air allowing the oxidation process to begin.  The leaves are then spread out to dry and finally fired in order to stop the oxidation process.  Oolongs are allowed to oxidize between 5-80% – hence the vastly differing flavours in your cup.

So now that we have all the technical data behind us – where does the Greatness and the Dung Ti Oolong come into play?  If you’ve ever had a really great Dung Ti Oolong – you are familiar with the sweet floral notes that linger through your nose and in your mouth.  This particular Oolong is referred to as Jade style – it is very lightly oxidized – about 5-10%.  Dung Ti or Tung Ting Oolong grows in the Nantou County of Taiwan.  The story goes that in 1855, a villager named Ling Fung Tse went to the WuYi Mountains in the Fujian Province of China.  He brought back 36 tea trees from his journey and being grateful to his friend Ling San Yen for financing his trip, he gave him 12 of the tea trees.  These trees were planted along the mountain roads that surround Chi-Ling Lake which is where this unforgettable tea is still picked from.

The first time I brewed a cup of Dung Ti, it brought a smile to my face – the light liquor and the sweet aroma is breathtaking – not only in aroma but in flavour as well.  I drank it slowly enjoying every drop and I gave thanks to the tea master who had had the skill, the wisdom and the talent in knowing at exactly what moment to stop the oxidation of this tea in order to produce the heavenly flavours that I was now enjoying thousands of miles away on the other side of the world. 

We are surrounded by Greatness – but stop and recognize it sometimes and it will humble you when you become aware, conscious and acknowledge the Greatness that may be before your very eyes.  Sometimes it’s as obvious as listening to the giant Itzhak Perlman – sometimes it’s in a cup of tea – sometimes it’s in the person next to you.

Categories
Inspiration Tea

Itzhak Perlman, Dung Ti Oolong and being in the presence of Greatness (Part 1)

perlman_itzhak For your full experience, you can click on Perlman playing Bach on the right hand bar of this screen under Liquid Visions while reading.

I had the great privilege of experiencing Itzhak Perlman live in concert recently and yes the experience was awesome.  Not awesome in the teen slang version of awesome – but awesome in the true meaning of the word – inspring awe or admiration or wonder.  He played for us for only a short 45 minutes – but the experience moved me close to tears.  Now why would a violinst playing Beethoven’s Violin Concerto in D Major move me close to tears.  Simple really – as I sat and watched and listened – I was clearly aware and conscious of a simple fact – I was in the presence of Greatness – and that conscious realization is an emotional one.   It is a rare moment I think that those two moments collide – one, being in the presence of Greatness, and two – knowing it.

I must make a further confession – I have wanted to see Ithak Perlman perform for a very long time – ever since I was sent this piece written by a journalist from the Houston Chronicle many years ago.  It has stayed with me for all these years –

On Nov. 18, 1995, Itzhak Perlman, the violinist came on stage to give a concert at Avery Fisher Hall at Lincoln Center in New York City. If you have ever been to a Perlman concert, you know that getting on stage is no small achievement for him. He was stricken with polio as a child, and so he has braces on both legs and walks with the aid of two crutches.To see him walk across the stage one step at a time, painfully and slowly, is an unforgettable sight. He walks painfully, yet majestically, until he reaches his chair. Then he sits down, slowly, puts his crutches on the floor, undoes the clasps on his legs, tucks one foot back and extends the other foot forward. Then he bends down and picks up the violin, puts it under his chin, nods to the conductor and proceeds to play.

 By now, the audience is used to this ritual. They sit quietly while he makes his way across the stage to his chair. They remain reverently silent while he undoes the clasps on his legs. They wait until he is ready to play.

But this time, something went wrong. Just as he finished the first few bars, one of the strings on his violin broke. You could hear it snap -it went off like gunfire across the room. There was no mistaking what that sound meant. There was no mistaking what he had to do.

People who were there that night thought to themselves: “We figured that he would have to get up, put on the clasps again, pick up the crutches and limp his way off stage – to either find another violin or else find another string for this one.”

But he didn’t. Instead, he waited a moment, closed his eyes and then signaled the conductor to begin again. The orchestra began, and he played from where he had left off. And he played with such passion and such power and such purity as they had never heard before. Of course, anyone knows that it is impossible to play a symphonic work with just three strings. I know that, and you know that, but that night Itzhak Perlman refused to know that.

You could see him modulating, changing, recomposing the piece in his head. At one point, it sounded like he was de-tuning the strings to get new sounds from them that they had never made before.

When he finished, there was an awesome silence in the room. And then people rose and cheered. There was an extraordinary outburst of applause from every corner of the auditorium. We were all on our feet, screaming and cheering, doing everything we could to show how much we appreciated what he had done.

He smiled, wiped the sweat from this brow, raised his bow to quiet us, and then he said, not boastfully, but in a quiet, pensive, reverent tone, “You know, sometimes it is the artist’s task to find out how much music you can still make with what you have left.”

What a powerful line that is. It has stayed in my mind ever since I heard it. And who knows? Perhaps that is the [way] of life – not just for artists but for all of us.

So, perhaps our task in this shaky, fast-changing, bewildering world in which we live is to make music, at first with all that we have, and then, when that is no longer possible, to make music with what we have left. (Jack Riemer, Houston Chronicle)

Categories
General Inspiration

The Story of a Passionate Life

Ben Dunlap – President of Wofford College gave this speech at the TED (Technology, Entertainment, Design) Conference – and it is truly inspiring.  Come back and watch it again when you need to be inspired in your life – sometimes we need to hear the obvious and re-energize ourselves.

Enjoy.

[ted id=http://www.ted.com/talks/view/id/208]

Categories
Inspiration Tea

The Art of Tea

The New York times ran a piece about a month ago on the Art of Tea – the images are beautiful, so we thought we would share them with you – click on the picture for the full slideshow.

bowl

Categories
Inspiration

Jem – Keep on Walking

Inspiration for the day
http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=5oa_gtk8oQU]

Categories
General Inspiration

Inspiration

Here is an inspiring message in some hard times for a lot of people.  I know the message is from a major conglomerate selling  a product, but it doesn’t make the message any less meaningful:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_g8_lBvPw0M]