This morning I found myself embroiled in a strange tiff with my studio landlord. A misunderstanding over lines of communication, mostly, but as I attempted to set clear boundaries and advocate for appropriate financial privacy with him, I was startled to notice how unreasonable he appeared in our email conversation. Unlike the laid back fellow I had been dealing with over the past year. I was preparing to consider a vacating of the premises and consolidation of resources. However, finally he called me by phone and chose to confide in me that he was not in his best mood due to the fact that someone, last night, stole his wonderful duck.
Oh no! I said, Not Puddles!!!
What kind of deviant bastard would go around, in this day and age, stealing ducks? Especially on a Monday night?
Back in the Victorian Era, apparently, the crime was quite common. Duck stealing was prosecuted on a regular basis and could land the perpetrator with consequences ranging from whipping, fined a shilling, or bail… all the way to 10 years in prison, hard labor, and 14 years of “transportation”… which I have to assume means being sent to Australia. Wow, those guys took duck stealing seriously. And today, I can see why. My landlord was so upset!
I can understand. Some days I feel like my duck has been stolen, and I don’t even own a duck.
In Japanese culture, there is a concept known as “Wa”:
Wa, the principle underpinning Japanese society, is one of the key concepts necessary to understand Japan. For most Japanese, Wa is a feeling close to perfection: a group situation in which everything goes smoothly, without contestation or ill will, everyone knows their place and act accordingly.
I heard this term originally from a recording engineer I worked with once upon a time that formerly traveled with the likes of Jackson Browne and Bonnie Raitt. He was known to say from time to time, “Hey man, don’t fuck with my Wa.” I have loved that phrase ever since. Anytime I’m feeling peaceful and some negative Nelly starts to affect my mood, I think that phrase at them. Sometimes it even leaks out of my mouth, even though I’m pretty sure it sounds hopelessly hippie-ish… and almost no one knows WTF I’m talking about when I do say it. Not that that has ever really stopped me. The more anachronistic the better in my estimation. But I digress…
My landlord had his Wa fucked with in a serious fashion today. When a man feels unsafe in his community, in his home, in his own damn garden, that’s just mean. And poor Puddles, she might be someone’s lunch.
At the end of the day, I was just reminded… to tread lightly with my fellows. You never know when someone’s duck has been nabbed, someone’s world turned upside down, when someone’s Wa has been seriously disrupted. I should staple a note to my eyeballs. Walk lightly… speak with compassion… hold love in your heart even when you are at odds with someone you share space with.