Apr 8, 2008

Hataraki – working things out

So often we look at any change with anxiety rather than seeing it as an opportunity to stretch and grow. In tea study, there is “hataraki,” which is to calmly adjust to any situation that arises and confidently move forward. Making tea is a complex procedure and there are so many variations. Add to that the social interactions, etiquette, choice of utensils, and the weather and there are many, many places that things can go wrong.

We rely on training to face any situation and move forward. We rarely have an ideal situation for tea gathering. And how uninteresting that would be. I had a sensei in Japan tell me once, that I would never have a perfect temae. But, she said that it was interesting to watch me because of how I would get myself out of my mistakes. And I did make many, many mistakes. So what would you do if your fukusa caught on fire? Or you emptied your teabowl full water all over the tatami mat? How would you handle a formal tea gathering if a guest brought along a friend uninvited? Or your guest of honor got sick at the last minute? What if you planned a moon viewing and it rained that night?

I once gave a chaji and the person who was supposed to make sweets for tea forgot to bring them. Rather than yell at that person, the focus was to solve the problem and move forward. We cut up an apple I had brought for a snack for the kitchen crew. The challenge is to problem solve on the spot and not waste time stewing about what is going wrong or blame other people. Make adjustments and move on.


  1. I love this post - such a sensible way of looking at things - wonderful

  2. Welcome back, Jane. Only if we could do this in other aspects of our life as well. I am still working on that. Thanks for taking the time to comment