If Dr. Seuss had a Whoville chocolate it would me made out of matcha – a finely milled and supersaturated powder form of traditional green tea. My love affair with the mellow yet rich and slightly sweet flavor started with my traditional childhood birthday dinners at the high-class teppanyaki restaurant in my hometown. I always lusted after the green tea ice cream that followed the weird tropical pineapple boat. I later learned it was because of the matcha; an exotic substance that even as an adult, I can rarely afford. Over the past year I have seen it added to a multiple of imported products likes Kit Kat bars in the candy aisle of the Japanese supermarket and in the cabinets of my rich hippie (I know that’s an oxymoron but it’s also a real live breed of human in 2013) friends who generously add it to their morning spirulina and acai smoothies. In tea, it’s rich and creamy and is the epitome of what I imagine a shamrock would taste like!
I found a steaming cup of it recently in San Diego at Extraordinary Desserts prior to a jaunt down the street to the San Diego Museum of Contemporary Art where it put me in the right frame of mind to see a very Zen-like piece of art that became the overall highlight of the collection of work we viewed.
After viewing the entire main building of the museum, we ventured across the street to the small addendum building where we viewed the contents of a small and strange conceptual show. Upon leaving, the docent asked us if we had experienced the Wendy Jacob “breathing wall.” We said we had not and she invited us back into the elevator to go up to the space where this mysterious work was placed. She told us to stand at one corner of the room and pay attention to the wall abutting our shoulders to the right, looking at it lengthwise to the end of the room. She told us to stay still, asking us to take in a few deep yoga breaths. Immediately upon calming my physical body and taking a few deep breaths, I started to hear a slow cycle of what seemed like a mechanical sighing, up and down like a release of relief. The line of the wall in front of my face started to blur and I noticed that it was actually moving very subtly with the cycle of sound, in and out, mimicking respiration. We never would have noticed it without being called upon to do so which informed my fond reflection on the piece. How many times do we miss a chance to feel true calm because we are too busy to notice something so slight and so simple amongst us? How many of us take a walk down a street on a bright day but fail to recall all the colors of the houses we’ve just passed? How many of us walk through a museum glancing at each visual object without taking a chance to inhale and really feel our guttural reaction? How many of us continually decline the opportunity to just be that oftentimes looms directly in front of us? It was nice to experience a piece that blurred the boundaries between what it is visible, what is literal, what is hidden and what is felt all within an unassuming installation so confident in its Buddhist-like detachment that it is discovered only by those viewers who slow down enough to discover it or agree to walk back upstairs after missing it and being invited in for a second chance at a moment of peace.