Ms. Kim Miza is my Korean Chado teacher. She is 72 years old but still very energetic, working every day. Before becoming a Chado teacher, Ms. Kim was a painter. She started studying Chado when she was 40. However, it is never too late to begin such a journey, and since she knew painting well, it contributed – to some extent – to her Chado study
Every Chado teacher has a personal specialty apparent in her/his tea art. I believe Ms. Kim’s specialty is in her tea cloth. One of the senior fellow apprentices told me that it took him half a year to learn how to deal with the tea cloth according to Ms. Kim’s requirements. In Ms. Kim’s Chado, the simple tea cloth is not just for cleaning the tea table, it represents five elements of tea rites. To properly utilize the tea cloth is not only using it to clean the tea cups and tea table, but cleaning those tea cups and the tea table in both a scientific and artistic way. The scientific aspect means that a section of the clean tea cloth is used just once to make sure the cloth is used effectively and fulfills the need of Chado practical course. In an artistic way, it means that use of the tea cloth must be natural and beautiful. To satisfy these requirements, all the tea cloths had to be handmade by the performer herself/himself. Beginners have to study and practice at least half a year to perfect their process with the tea cloth.
Ms. Kim sometimes holds her own tea meeting. Since she is a painter and skilled at painting and handwriting, she often hangs her own works in the tea meeting. She also prepares a light meal and tea cakes herself. She hates for guests to be late, or absent for any reason. She dislikes gossiping during the tea meeting. Any guest displaying these behaviors will never receive a future invitation.
Ms. Kim never stops studying. She chooses her teachers not based upon their age, or experience, but based upon her belief that the person has something to teach her. She has studied with the famous Korean Cha’ren Pak jonhan; and from a younger tea artist who is a specialist in Chinese tea art.
I often wish I could live like Ms. Kim when I am her age. She looks young and energetic, and has invested her life in teaching and studying. Even in her 70’s, she is still busy teaching and studying. Could that be the reason why she is always energetic and young?
Actually, Ms. Kim sometimes reminds me of two great teachers of mine. Professor K from Hong Kong University and Professor Lancaster. Both are more than 80 years old but they are energetic and busy helping people – even in their 80’s.
Professor K comes from Sri Lanka. Although we have never talked much, his teaching had great influence on the way I view the world. And I like him very much. Although he is living his ninth decade he still has a child’s red face! He is so cute! Most impressive is that his thinking is crystal clear: he can always come up with one or two short words quickly and clearly answering any argument from students. He is certainly a professor possessing a very clear mind.
Professor Lancaster is also a professor who has had an impact on my life. Different than other specialists who encourage you toward specializing by focusing one thing; Professor Lancaster passed me the message to open my mind. A side effect of being a specialist is the tendency to be narrow-minded. You must continue to practice open mindedness even if you are a specialist. The other essential knowledge I gained from Professor Lancaster was that of peacefulness. Whenever I talk with him or simply sit with him, I can feel the aura of peacefulness. Is this relevant at his age? I do not know. What I know is that those amazing teachers—Ms. Kim, Professor K, and Dr. Lancaster—although they are older, they have never stop teaching, studying and helping people, which might, in turn, make them more energetic and healthy.
I wish them always energetic and healthy; and hope I can live their way when I am their age!
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