Tag Archives: Progress

From Baloney to Bull Oni

#1795 Namahage

As we see here, the Vince Neil oni is predictably guarding a row of bottles.(Photo credit: Nemo’s great uncle)

The concept of Japanese oni (demon), a subset of the Yōkai (ghost), are very endearing to me. They have such an identifiable image when displayed. It’s always a wacky, outlandish, grotesque figure ready to be menacing any moment. They’re traditionally evil, but I can’t help finding them simply adorable. Does that make me a strange person? Probably.

Modern representations of oni portray them more like wards against evil. It’s the same concept as gargoyles, and are displayed similarly on houses. Wild how society adapts tradition to suit its needs, isn’t it? It’s even wilder how cultures can mirror each other. Humans being human beings, or Human Beinz as the case may be.

The Japanese have a saying, “oni ni kanobo,” which translates into “oni with an iron club.” At least my primer material suggests such. I don’t specialize in much, and like a little variety. Most of the time I read introductory material and move on. So sue me; I’m not going to major in it. At any rate, this adage was meant to mean “invincible.” None of us are truly invincible, but I know a few times where I felt like I picked up the Super Mario Brothers star.  Others know what I’m talking about, I’m sure.

This post from Andra Watkins reminded me of a rumination I had back when I was trying to explore my life’s path in New York City. It was about success and progress. I was an unpaid flunky (intern) at an indie record label that operated out of a spare office in the co-owner’s family business. It was cool for a lot of things, like understanding the moving parts of the music industry and soaking in a New York way of life. It also had terribly horrifying, scruple-crushing events that may not seem much to others as it does a good kid from the rural Midwest. Some of them weren’t my fault, but some were.

Being outgoing was, and still is to some extent, a circumstance that would make the blood drain from my face. People are unpredictable. People are judgmental. People do not serve me with the level of respect they should, and this is regarding episodes like getting shouldered out of the way on the sidewalk. Basic respect, in my mind. I never asked anyone to believe in me, take my ideas seriously, or like me. I just wanted a little cooperation.

All of this fear and anxiety seems to manifest itself into a structure of defeat, a Berlin Wall of the soul. Concepts like these have an ethereal nature about them, and as such, there truly is no wall. Barriers happen to everyone and are the mind’s way of  taunting, intimidating, and scaring the person into inaction. The reasons will vary from person to person, but mine certainly were borne from a lack of self-esteem. I had been put through the wringer at school, and was left to drift about for the rest of my life. For once, I grabbed the paddle and moved somewhere.

Channeling the anger and desire from within my core produced a spirit wind. My metaphysical being would take the shape of a ram or bull and pummel the barrier with a force only revered by the intangible block. This ram batters and batters and batters the wall until it yields. Through experience, more often than not, that wall will break. It will buckle and groan, and your face will bloody and bruise, but it will give way eventually. Some mountains take longer to topple than others, but that’s where patience and persistence come in real handy.

As a caveat, I would like to acknowledge it takes brave soul to know when to try a different route. It’s decision requires discretion, though, and shouldn’t happen too often. With that in mind, be the oni ni kanobo. Be the bull, and give your barrier its reckoning!

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