What Rocky Balboa, Sophia II, and the Daruma Have in Common

The world isn’t all Sunshine and rainbows. It is a very mean and nasty place. It will beat you to your knees and keep you there permanently IF YOU LET IT. You, me, or nobody is going to hit as hard as life. But it ain’t about how hard you get hit, it is about how hard you can get hit and keep moving forward, how much you can take and keep moving forward. That’s how winning is done!” – Rocky Balboa

I read this quote in an E-Mail from Sophia Act II last week.  It haunted me.

Rang in the hollow places inside my head.

And it made me keep going.  Even when I wanted to quit.

Even after a promoter tried to triple a fee.  Even after he tried to squeeze me out of an art show once I’d given him a lot of local promotion.  (Forty or so of seventy-five others did quit). 

Then we woke up late on the morning “of.”  Our assistant locked the keys in the car. GM couldn’t activate the ON-Star.  You get the picture.  Bad Karma?

But all of the time Rockey– via Sophia — was there, tapping me on the shoulder — not letting me quit.  Dangling that belt from the end of the round in my mind’s eye.  So I moved forward — into the punch.  Let the chip(ed teeth) fall where they may. 

The quote was hauntingly familiar, though…then I saw it…

“‘If you knock me down seven times I must get up eight”‘– the mantra of the Daruma” has highlighted the signature of every email I’ve sent for many years.  

Daruma are hollow and round Japanese wish dolls. Featuring no arms or legs, they’re modeled after Bodhidharma, the founder and first patriarch of Zen.

Because of their low center of gravity, they return to their upright position after being tilted to one side, like a Weeble. This has rendered the Daruma the symbol for optimism, for persistence, and for strong determination — a lot like Rocky Balboa

Only one doll is owned at a time, and they’re purchased in or near Japanese Buddhist temples.  Little ones cost about 500 yen, but larger ones can cost up to 10,000 yen. If the doll was purchased within a temple, the owner often returns at year’s end for purification burning. They’re specially marked so there won’t be any confusion later  — temples don’t want to burn those which don’t  exhibit their own mark. This special ceremony places kami (spirits) on notice that the faith has not been forgotten — but another path is being pursued to make achieve success.

As for NoMoWally — we left the Art Show rockin’ — even through Hurricane Hannah and being cut short an hour.  One of the best ever.

AND — smack in the middle of the Hurricane — I was approached by a handbag designer.  She said “Come over after the show.  I have a garage full of stuff you may want.”  Did she ever!  Rich modern-style fabrics that will add a new dimension to our inventory — and a nice group of items to bring to our local Senor Center for their craft projects! 

At the very bottom of it all was one little well-worn swatch.  It was quite out-of-place — a Commemorative Portrait from the early turn of the century, the fold and wear lines still evident where someone had carefully tucked away this reminder of their beloved ancestor  into their breast pocket.  There it rested until whomever owned it themselves faced the guard depicted there.  Now, thanks to the  generosity of this lovely woman, this piece will find its way to a central collection destined for Boston’s Peabody Museum.  The collection will also include other Chinese Commemorative Portraits, Polo players carved upon Ivory from the turn of the century, rare porcelain lamps gilded with 24K gold, and rare books documenting Commemorative Portraits.  The Peabody is the only museum in the US with an exhibit dedicated to Chinese Americans — and to preserving their heritage.  (Although China, BTW, has complained many of the works there were “stolen,” the Chinese Government was the one who SOLD them under the Mao regime.  Their own museum lacks the resources to properly preserve them). 

(A subsequent box revealed house ware and clothing samples.  They were cleaned and repaired and dropped off to a homeless shelter for teens in the Greater Providence area.  A set of sheets of your own.  Your own towel.   When you live in a “permanent temporary” space, a small comfort like that can go a long way.  How nice it came at such an unexpected time)!


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