Run With The Feeling
Yeah, just gonna jump right in the deep end and say that once again, my shuffle playlist has sparked the life into a Wednesday post.
My mind is just too active on the walk home. It gives me the chance to think about literally anything other than awkward bits of the tube and their formation in desperate effort to avoid eye contact with everyone else on their way home.
Something I heard in my terrible tinny Apple earphones … "But you don't satisfy the hunger in my mind. 'Cause our bodies are predictable". Yes, I know Bea Miller is probably not talking about Shaolin, nor has she ever, but it got be thinking about satisfying my hunger: my drive. Not just my hunger or determination to learn lyrics (but I think that dream of mine launched in the 00s and never really got much further) but the drive of my career.
I have put almost all of my time and energy into it as soon as I got to University (back in 2011). I was educated at a highly academic 6th form, and I think my ambition to succeed was nourished well there. Art is something that you need to work at, take time over to succeed at (give or take 60 years). It’s still taking me some time to get used to that idea, but it’s what drives me everyday. Like I frequently say, my hunger for knowledge is why I lap up anything I can. Even passing, flirtatious, inconsequential song lyrics. I have put all of my hunger into the thrill of being an artist (thrill is term that is to be used lightly in this case). Yes, I have to be the artist I am, but I also have to be my own agent, curator, advertiser, promoter, all-round-nice-person, accountant etc. etc. so sometimes not completely thrilling.
This week leads us to Shaolin, one of my favourite places. There was just so much energy and hunger to succeed here. We stayed in a little guesthouse (literally one of our guide’s mate’s) that was next to a Kung-Fu training centre. It was filled with drying sweetcorn.
After exploring the area (or wandering around the 3 houses that were situated in the area) we walked over to experience these guys and their Kung-Fu. They performed a show for us and for those that wanted, they taught a ‘back to basics’ lesson. I thought I’d stand back and photograph the event. I mean the sun was setting, this was perfect.
These boys were sent here by their parents so that they were able to be fed, clothed, and schooled with well known masters that also train them in Kung-fu. It’s a discipline, a religion and a way of life. They’re taught at an extremely high standard. Some of these guys were barely 12 and they were smashing bricks, bottles and resting spears on their necks.
This one guy even threw a FUCKING SEWING NEEDLE through a piece of glass and popped a balloon.
I mean the determination jeeez.
The next day, we visited a Wǔshù Training Centre, which had slightly more money pumped into it, as you can see by the drastic increase of pupils.
Yeah, those guys are doing squats over there.
And those guys are waving swords about, yep.
There was even a more professional show with lights and that. These guys were all striving and flighting and smashing things so they could make a career out of it. They sort of idolised Jackie Chan, wanting to become stunt men and 'action' actors back in the western world. Very strange and surreal to see such training en masse.
All of this was situated within a weird complex of temples, which were apparently founded in the year 500AD, but halls actually date back as far as 2004.
(no, that’s not a typo)
But yes, going back, our bodies are predictable. Even our undisciplined travelling ones. And so we finally found ourselves climbing yet another holy mountain. It’s about hunger. We expect something of ourselves. We were clearly impressed by these guys, their stories and felt like we needed to prove something. To who though? Who knows.
Climbing through the Pagoda Forest led us up to the Wǔrǔ Peak. There’s a cave here that Damo Bodhidharma meditated in for 9 years. Bodhidharma was a Buddhist monk, seriously into Shaolin Kung-fu. One of his students was so desperate to be taught by him, he chopped off his arm to show his commitment. I think he must have been pretty good. People now write wishes on bits of ribbon and tie them on trees for good luck.
Anyway, after our 4km hike uphill (just stairs) we got to the spectacular view. Probably as satisfying as the 54th second build up of Summer Friends by Chance the Rapper. Probably.
Making our way back to the guesthouse I had some time to think.
We are creatures of habit, unfortunately, and I liked to plug into my music to think. Sometimes the only thing you need is what Gossip Girl Season 5 Playlist can give you.
How far is our success driven by our determination to succeed? Almost always I think. It may come late, but it’ll come.
Your drive comes from your ability to do; they’re all interlinked.