Order disorder

In the Brick issue from Winter 2004, comes this lovely and instructive anecdote by Simon McBurney. The context is the conclusion of a Japanese tea ceremony.

When it is over and after an hour of kneeling on the matting, however, I decide to skip the next bit of formality. The sequence is about how one should stand at the end of the tea ceremony. I have been told to bring my left foot slowly forward, place it in front of me, wait, then do the some with my right foot before I stand. But I can't be bothered, no one is watching, it is so much easier to stand directly, and I am dying for a pee. But as I try to stand, my legs buckle and I fall forward, spilling tea and tray over the straw matting. Everyone breaks into peals of laughter.

Stand in order; there is no blood in the legs after kneeling, says the tea master through his hilarity.

The order of gestures functions like a mnemonic. The same gestures repeated over and over become ingrained and graceful.

I kneel and begin again as I am instructed, and I find I can now stand with ease. And then I understand. the sequence is the thing. The order is all.

And so for day 221