Sustainable Living, A Japanese Value
I have a new name— Victoria Solis. I am victorious in my pursuit of my values and ideals, and made it to Uruguay. I’ve been here about three weeks. Twelve years ago I set out from my hometown of Boulder, Colorado with my two kids and moved us down to Buenos Aires. I had anticipated the upcoming world turmoil, and we set out adjusting our lifestyles to the values that were important to me—sustainable, simple and spiritual living and education.
I yoga homeschooled my kids from places like the historic Café Tortoni and did a Storytime Yoga kids yoga storytelling class for the community. Knitting, cooking from scratch, baking bread, gardening and getting rid of your big house and pile of stuff are all popular in the United States right now. We’ve been doing it for more than a decade. Life is easy when you don’t have a high-maintenance lifestyle and can manage crisis with yoga and stories. In loss or gain, life is rich in spirit and infused with the gifts of nature and community. Victory!
Now my kids are adults. Storytelling served them well— my son just graduated cum laude with a degree in Classical Studies and Philosophy from the University of Florida, Gainesville and received a scholarship for his Master’s degree. This fall he will teach his own Latin class and assist in a literature class. My intrepid daughter is studying Spanish and French in Salamanca, Spain. Her original plan was to stay for two months, but the pandemic shut down the school and her flight back was cancelled. Most kids ran back to mommy and daddy, but not my kid! She’s been there 2 1/2 years now. I spent 3 months there last fall having a remarkable spiritual experience. Lots of Japanese culture there. I will blog about it eventually soon!
I chose Uruguay now, however, because of my past experiences in Argentina. Through those amazing online connections, I met Malia Ferrer, yoga educator, publisher and artist. We are twins! I’m living on her and her husband’s yoga farm about an hour outside Mercedes. I attended their silent retreat, and it has been pure alchemy for me. It’s winter, so it’s cold. But silence is golden, and so is staying off that soul-sucking social media.
Together we are touring public schools and more, giving workshops to kids about kamishibai, Japanese paper theatre, meditation, creative writing and sustainability. Japan has a special role in the world to promote sustainable living, as its traditional culture reveres nature and emphasizes living in harmony with it. The Edo Period of Japan was particularly influential, as it was closed off from the rest of the world and sustainability practices reached their heights. Art was for everybody, not just the rich and famous. That’s another concept making humans, especially youth, sick. There is so much horrendous waste of the mindless Western consumer lifestyle. It’s making the planet and our minds and hearts not just sick but downright insane. With the economic downturn, my goal of sharing my simple lifestyle values has arrived! Japan shows the way! And it’s an urgent time to share peace.
Here are a few blog posts at Storytime Yoga about my kamishibai. I hope you get to see some kamishibai or try telling or making some stories with kamishibai yourself. Join the International Kamishibai Association of Japan. I am a member and attended several Kamishibai for Peace siminars in Tokyo, and told Kamishibai for Peace at the First World Kamishibai Day in Tokyo. You can also join kamishbai groups on Facebook: The World Of Kamishibai and Kamishibai Connections. I met Walter Ritter at my second Kamishibai for Peace seminar in Tokyo. He is part of the non-profit Write Out Loud San Diego, which features World Kamishibai Forum workshops online. There is also now a special interest group of Kamishibai Storytelling Alliance at the National Storytelling Network.
At the silent retreat here in Uruguay, I suggested an art exercise to take symbols, dreams, or any image that arose during the two-day experience and put it to paper. The adults then showed their art ”kamishibai” to the group in silence. Those images worked their magic on our interiors, watering seeds of imagination and activating the psyche within. Try it out yourself.
Malia and I will be teaching a workshop here at the yoga farm in conjunction with a therapist friend from Argentina this July on the art of storytelling, using kamishibai, imagery and meditation. I will throw in some haiku and rakugo too!