Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Flying with dragons: my road to creative freedom

The pattern of dragons in clouds of this (new) Cha Bu reminds me of the cover of 'The Artist's Way at Work'. I read this book 8 years ago, as I was struggling to decide my next career move. I had been very successful as a financial controller at Siemens Telecommunications in Taiwan. But the industry was cutting back and the job started to be boring. So, for 12 weeks, I worked my way through these pages to make the right change.

It became clear that I didn't want this kind of international management career. My wife was pregnant and I felt so good in Taiwan. As I was mid way through the book, my wife enrolled me in a weekly 'gongfu cha' class taught by Teaparker. And when our baby arrived, I quit my job to take care of him. I continued attending the tea classes and a little later started this blog...
"Often one of the first signals of a successful creative emergence is the implulse to introduce some touch of personal beauty or color into the workplace." page 61 .

Time-outs are one of the first creative tools. They help us to find what are our interests. Playtime allows the mind to take itself lightly and take us where we want to go most. Interests differ from person to person, but tea time does for many what this time-out is all about: relaxation and happiness through the pleasure of the senses.
"Creativity is the imagination at play with the things it loves", Carl Jung (page 117).
After these years, I have discovered the obvious: I love tea and try my best to create unique experiences for each Cha Xi (tea play).

One of my favorite tea genre is the Hung Shui Oolong, a medium roasted Taiwanese Oolong. The slow charcoal roasting adds depth, warmth and character to this kind of tea. Where fresh teas are best young, Hung Shui Oolong improves and gets more mellow with time (when well stored). In this sense, this Oolong ('black dragon') can be a metaphor of the creative journey.

Today, fittingly, I chose to brew my spring 2009 Ali Shan Hung Shui Oolong (see also here). After over one year of rest, the roasting flavors have receded. The fragrance is like sweet brown sugar in a dark forest. Something is tickling my taste buds...

Honesty and simplicity are two further creativity tools to set you on the right track. In tea, the simple gaiwan will give us an honest assessment of the quality of a tea. The porcelain gaiwan won't hide its defects like an absorbing clay teapot could. So, if the tea performs well in a gaiwan, it is a good choice for our appreciation.

I find amazing how smooth, and yet still powerful, this tea has become. It has a full body and a masculine character, but also a lot of grace. A sweet, dark fruity aftertaste lingers on. It feels so alive and pure.

Before flying, the dragon dances in my mouth and under my eyes.


The sun shines also in this tea.
Beauty and strength,
Sun and earth,
Water and leaves.
Let your creativity come out.
Make tea and fly with dragons!

9 comments:

Perpetua said...

Oh I read the Artists Way as well. And I really did the whole twelve chapters--I didn't shirk or cut corners. It changed me completely!! It's funny but recently I have felt a bit lost. So I have gone back to tea drinking (why I found your blog) and I have started to go back to what I originally learned so long ago from that book. I just hopped onto your blog and it was "serendipity" that you would be talking about these two things... !

En Kopp Zen said...

Thanks for this inspirational blog. That´s a very interesting book ... and the dragon chaxi is very beautiful! It give some sense of strength yet harmony.
/Celina

Stephane said...

Thanks for your comment, Perpetua. It's a very nice coincidence and shows that tea also helps your creative process.

Thanks Celina. I'm glad you like my new Cha Bu.

Reg said...

Great photos and descriptions! Makes me wish I was there.

Steph said...

What a powerful and moving post. Thank you, it is what I needed to read.

Stephane said...

Thanks Reg.
Steff, I'm very glad if this post could give you some energy.

Wojciech Bońkowski (aka Nerval) said...

Tea as a change in life... A moving post indeed.

Marilyn said...

I have gone through the Artist Way also. Been thinking it was time again. I love hearing how it has inspired someone to follow their heart.

la signora delle camelie said...

Such a beautifull story...I have to read that book!
It happened the same for me, four years ago a book changed my life, Lu Yu's Chajing, and I decided to start a tea tasting course.
Now I make my own courses.
P.S. I love your tea selection