Probably walking on a mountain … Grab one of the last few copies of Koya Bound:
Tiny torii, poking through the trees. Amazing, the difference between summer and winter forest density. More amazing still, the difference in bug density. A swarm of little flies attacked our feet the day after I took this photo. One poor member of our crew was in shorts, had his legs devoured. Tiny red dots, turned to tiny red lumps, turned to itching unlike anything I had ever experienced. We all ended up at the dermatologist, begging for steroid creams, antihistamines. A month later, late last night, I feel a phantom itch and one of the bites is still red, just barely. Slather on more cream, go to sleep, dream of toriis floating in forests.
Summer begins with seaside booms
Today a shop worker spoke to me in Japanese from behind and I had the distinct sensation of being not myself. They spoke with a confidence that rarely presents itself to you as a non-Japanese. They spoke Japanese as if they knew me and knew I would understand. The out of body feeling was a momentary blip, a spliced-in frame of me as no longer the other. I knew it wasn’t true — I knew I was still the me always and forever not looking the part. Regardless, it was nice to luxuriate in mutual deception if just for a moment.
Metagram - photo of me shooting that photo of the rice paddy walkers (actually of me chimping — the sun was blazing and I was shooting without an nd filter and wanted to make sure it wasn't a total blowout)
Psyched to finally be able to announce: @danrubin and my Koya Bound is a recipient of AIGA’s 50 Books / 50 Covers award. From the judges: “Endpapers are subtle and mood-provoking. Beautifully printed on uncoated stock. Book lays flat for comfortable leafing. Topped off with a ribbon marker. And the cloth cover material is luxurious.” Thanks to everyone who has supported this project. There’s still a few left if you want to grab one. Just 1,000 copies, nary another to ever be made. Purchase link in bio. #AIGA5050#AIGAarchives
The sansai (mountain veggie) hunter — bug protected, carrying a giant satchel full of yomogi and nobiru and kusagi, plus an additional cache of freshly sprouted takenoko. He must have been 75 years old and was hauling 30 or 40kg of greenery. We heard his bear bell jingling away as he rooted around in a thicket — he had just sort of hacked his way in. It was hot, close to thirty degrees Celsius, so he must have been sweltering under his outfit, but he didn’t seem phased. Happily posed for us, showed us what was in his bag, told us where he liked to hunt. Smiled. Had few teeth. Our guide said he’d make a few hundred bucks a day the way he was going. Seasonal, sure, but not a bad gig. #leicam10#leica#japan@papersky_store
Our Yamabushi — mountain ascetic — guide on a walk along the Rokujuri Old Road in Yamagata Japan. Three full days of walking last week with a great crew from @papersky_store. it’s always interesting to feel the dynamic of a group change as a walk progresses. Initial impressions turn out off by a hair in this direction or that. Conversations shift from superficial introductions into increasingly subtle registers. Family, loves, losses, worries, joys, dreams — step by step these topics become the focus of small talk made large as you walk up and down the backs of mountains, traipse across rice paddies on accidental detours.
My room at the meditation center, futons cleaned and hung.
Back from the vipassana course, and back now, too, from a multi-day hike with @papersky_store magazine in the mountains of Yamagata. Newsletter going out soon (link in bio) with many more thoughts on the meditation experience. A snippet: “And now I’m sat in a cafe in Kyoto, having just emerged from the compound, ridden back to the city with three other co-meditators, one who has done five — *five* — courses in the last six months. I’m alone and I feel like I’m going crazy in a wholly different, exciting way. With this newly ice-bathed mind I feel like I can taste everything with my eyes. There’s simply *so much stuff.* Beautiful men and women, and bumbling foreign travelers with children white as bleached sheets with golden — nay, *flaxen* — pale hair, and very hip mugs and coffee paraphernalia lining the walls. And this cup of french pressed Brazilian beans — it’s like the Brazilian farmer himself is spooning a thick coffee syrup into my noggin’, coating my brain, dialing the world up six more notches, cranking the contrast on *everything*.”
Machapuchare base camp, 2009, the night before my 29th birthday. Was losing part of my mind to altitude, and the other part to stupidity of the heart. When this photo was taken, I’d been disconnected from the network for about a week. The following night we’d arrive at Annapurna base camp, and I’d take the pictures I published in “Annapurna Moonrise” on my website (craigmod.com). Tomorrow I’m off on another spat of disconnection — ten days of vipassana silent meditation. The network is going off tonight, and won’t go back on until the 21st, so I get a full two weeks of quietude. Going into the meditation with no expectations. Excited, if anything, to spend so much time “walking” in the mind. When I came back from Annapurna, I re-connected and the first email I saw was from Paul Graham, inviting me out for a Y Combinator interview. A strange welcome back. Then, as I seemed inclined to do back then, I drank myself into the ground — literally — waking up the next day with a gash on my forehead, the worst headache of my life, and all the shame that comes from not remembering, but feeling in your bones, the idiocy of the night before. I somehow made my flight back to Japan, MRI’d the noggin’, and all was well (the shame still stewed, and will stew forever, thinking back on Kathmandu). I’m in a very different place now, and looking again on this image, I realize how fearful I was of, essentially, everything. Going into the mountains of Japan tomorrow, to spend time exploring the goofy folds of the mind, I’m aware that the ever present fear back then has quieted. And while the stupidity remains in various degrees, I feel fairly confident that I won’t drink myself into the ground coming out of this silence. See you on the other side.