At different times of my growing up years my dad was welder, printing worker, fishmonger, market stall assistant and even seller of coconut juice.
At the printing factory, he rescued rejected calendars, faulty books & wrongly paginated planners from the trash & brought them home for us.
Things that didn’t clear QC scrutiny were perfect for me. I was just a kid then so wrong dates or wrong colour tones didn’t bother me.
The condemned calendars featuring geishas in opulent kimonos while holding painted paper umbrellas under blooming sakuras opened my eyes to Japanese fabric & flower aesthetics.
The abandoned books meant for the incinerator would fuel my life long delight in looking at fonts, feeling the textures of paper and hearing the rustle of flipping pages.
Years later when I travel, I save hotel paper stationery & maps even in languages I cannot read, perhaps as gratitude to my dad for showing me respect for words, pictures & paper.
With the faulty planner, I had hours of fun pretending I was an adult. One day I was a visiting village nurse noting down a baby’s weight, and asking the imaginary mother if he had a cough. Another day I was a doctor prescribing medicines.
All that make believe exchanges were documented in the doodles of a girl who would one day work with young people and be involved in bringing medicines to animals in need.
Yesterday was Halloween. Contrary to popular beliefs, Halloween is not so much about dressing up & partying, but more about recognising there are other worlds beyond our material one.
Today being All Souls’ Day, and also Medicine Buddha Day, may I wish everyone a peaceful time honouring the people in our lives who have given what they could salvage to develop us.
And if we have past grudges or present traumas because we were given harmful things, may the medicine of compassion & wisdom heal us.