In Where the Dead Pause and the Japanese Say Goodbye, monks encourage survivors of the 2011 tsunami to fold simple origami as therapy. Today at Sakura Mart I noted the packs of small sheets of paper offered for sale at the counter, nice thick stacks of colorful paper next to books of basic folding instructions.
In America, origami is about meeting challenges, making better and more expert models and hoping to impress others with the skill. At least that's the impression I get. A lot of Americans seem intimidated by origami, and if you can make even starter models like boxes and flowers it comes across as noteworthy. Of course there are all these experienced artists on the net posting pics of their masterpieces, complicated designs of a million concise folds. That kind of thing has for a long time made me feel that I am an origami loser.
It feels good to fold when I don't think of all the things I can't make.
While Paint was being diagnosed I put together some origami with scrapbook paper and it kept me busy, distracted. Couldn't keep it up long. It feels like a waste of paper.
But today I looked at the paper being sold at Sakura Mart and wanted it. Clearly you're meant to just fold sheet after sheet into whatever you want. Want to make a hundred flapping birds? Have at it. It's not like it's expensive. Not a waste. Of time or paper.
So I think the Japanese don't see it as a skill in constant need of improvement. Not if it's a way to help people with PTSD. Not if it's something to do for the friends and relatives of an ill person, as they make 1,000 cranes and wish for good health. This is probably the first time I've understood that tradition. It's not a superstition or a cute story. It's a project and a sign of affection. See how we made 1,000 cranes for you!
Making origami did help me when I had to wait at home alone for news of Paint.
So I should make more of it for no other reason than because it's relaxing and beautiful. I don't have to stress over difficult models, or always try something new. I don't even have to keep what I make, as that would take up too much space after a while. Not a waste. Not everything has to be about productivity.
The Japanese approach to healing trauma in that book caught my attention. Here in America the idea is to get people over their issues as speedily and efficiently as possible so they can get back to normal living. Go back to constructive behavior, rejoin the workforce, become productive members of society again. We don't have the space or time for people who are still reliving a tsunami two years after the fact. In Japan the monks keep gathering with their communities, bringing tea and origami paper for those who need the help.
I need to get over the idea that everything I do requires a justification.