General Update

This quarter’s courseload would, by any reasonable standard, be classified as “underachieving.” Perhaps in the past, I would have exchanged my two 2-unit interest classes (Wilderness Medicine and Chinese Calligraphy) for an EE class and a 1-unit activity, but the roughness of the past two quarters, the impending graduation of some friends, and the terrific weather beckoning me to exercise my aging body demanded that I pare down the number of technical units.

I resolved to invest some time catching up in other aspects of life: music, cooking, language, sports… not to mention the search for possible research groups for my possible Ph. D. Inevitably, my schedule is packed again, though not entirely with work.

Of particular interest is the Chinese Calligraphy class I’m taking. In some way, it reawakened my aspirations of becoming good at 琴棋书画. Influenced by the portrayal of the ideal gentleman common to so many Chinese films and series, I had always pursued to be 文武双全, but never had the discipline to master anything. Perhaps this is the start of my training. =]

In any case, in the first few sessions, the calligraphy instructor taught us to pay attention to three principles in calligraphy: uprightness, balance, and proportion. The rest was up to practice, he said. We were given some words to practice using pencil and paper. As I concentrated intensely on the aforementioned three principles, I felt a familiar sensation, that which I felt while drawing: my mind focused solely on what the pencil was doing, constantly evaluating the precision and the quality of each mark. I seemed to be training not only in handwriting, but in patience as well. At the end of the class, the instructor gave us an assignment and I jotted some notes down in English. And then I stopped. My Chinese writing style had just flowed into my English characters. Unwittingly, I had continued to make each stroke purposefully, striving to bring it in harmony with the greater whole. I didn’t think twice. It just came naturally. Although that moment didn’t last long, I realized that something had changed. Handwriting no longer solely functional. It has become an art.