WITHOUT REWARDS – By Kaz


By Guest Blogger: KAZ MATAMURA — Japanese (read bio)

I think I am getting bitter as I age,” I told my mother when she called me to wish me happy birthday.

She said,Well, you are always a cynical one.”

Swiftly, I changed the subject by talking about her one eyed cat that drooled a lot.  I just didn’t want her to start talking about the time when I tried to run away from home at age 3.  She likes to tell the same old stories of her angry daughter.

She is right.  She is ALWAYS right.  She is the kind of debater who states the facts first so you cannot argue, and then force you to agree with her viewpoints.  A well-trained master Yoda attorney, that’s what she is, and she looks like Yoda, too.

Plus she is my mother.  How can I argue with someone who changed my diaper?

When I was younger, being cynical meant smart and quick.  “She can play with irony!  She is funny!”   But now, I must admit.  I don’t want to be a bitter old woman.

Merrium-Wester defines cynical as:  “contemptuously distrustful of human nature and motives.”

That is so me.

I hate people.

I especially hate people who want to be liked.  Why?  Because they don’t care what you need or want.  They only care about what THEY want: “to be loved, to be accepted and get what they want outta you!”  So, overly nice people are a big turn off.  Kind, gentle, listener – yes.  Fake smile, self-promoting suckers – enjoy the view of the back of my head.

As I age, I just give up trying to deny it, but I am accepting it.   I am bitter.

Why is that? My life is good.  But have I done anything for my joy?

I started working at an early ageActing was fun – till it became a job.  Writing was rejuvenating – till deadlines started crowding my head.  And the theatre … owning my own theatre and producing whatever I wanted to do, in dreamy (“north”) HOLLYWOOD?  That was an “oh-my-God-I-cannot-believe-I-am-doing-this” job to any foreign girl who came here with nothing.

But after 10 plus years, it got boring.  Producing is mechanical; you just go through a checklist.  Granted, each production is so vastly different, but my initial inspiration is not with me anymore.

Ambition and passion were my choice of drugs.  Creating something new, challenging and nearly impossible ignited a vibrant intensity within me.

I had only me and myself to make things happen, no matter what.

And I did that.  I made things happen.  Quite easily.  Easier than I thought.  Producing is just like acting.  There isn’t much secrecy to it.  It’s not that difficult.  It’s an old business that previous generations proved what works. It is an art form – craftsmanship and inspiration.

But I lost that inspiration.  I became a crafty producer.  What happened to my creative madness?

Then, a birthday present from the universe, disguised as serendipity, happened recently.

My boyfriend is an artist, a photographer.  This one is not just creative, he actually creates.

One night, we were sitting at the table, surmising that Yoko Ono was actually a pretty girl.   She wasn’t considered pretty then, because the sensibilities of beauty were different.  He pulled his laptop out, to Google her image.  The first one popped out was the very last photo of them together, the cover of the Rolling Stone magazine, the picture of a naked John Lennon curling in a fetus position next to Yoko.  My boyfriend mumbled “I want to take that picture with you.”

I heard it, but didn’t put too much thought to it.

He is a pretty mellow fellow.  But when he sees something he wants to shoot, he would scream  “Agggh!  Don’t moveI’ll get a camera,” and he means it, even when my hair is dripping wet from the shower.  In a darker room.  In a slow speed shot that I have to hold 20 min.  When inspiration hits him, he has to photograph what he sees when he sees it.

After the night at the dining table, he bugged me till I brought a pair of jeans and a black sweater, just like Yoko wore in the picture.  Then that afternoon, he called his best friend, a very talented photographer.  While he was awaiting his arrival, he dragged a futon mattress in the studio, sat the tall ladder next to it, and covered it with a sheet.  He framed the shot.  As soon as his friend got to the studio, he took his clothes off.  Lucky him, it was a hot day.  During the shoot, we all realized that Lennon was a true Yoga man.  No red meat eating Westerner can curl himself like that.  He bugged his friend (who was also a perfectionist) till he got the right (or better) pictures.

When he was going through the pictures, I almost asked him “why do you want to do that?”

I stopped myself.  Oh my god, I realized, I used to despise someone asking that.  “WHY DO YOU WANT TO DO THAT?”

My answer was “Because … I WANT TO DO IT.”

It’s not about money, recognition, compliments.  It was about DOING something that feels right.

When I started as a theatre artist, I had a lot of ideas.  But over the years, these ideas remained as unborn fetuses in my mind.  By not trying out ideas, my inspiration suffered a creative traffic jam.  I know if I just get it all out, I could make room for more ideas.

There is not good creativity or bad creativity.    For example, Da Vinci’s Mona Lisa may look like she is staring at you directly, while Little Timmy’s drawing of his dog may have five legs.  True – Da Vinci’s painting may offer the vast history and the timeless shared experience of his talent.  However, Little Timmys painting may mean a lot more to his grandma who had to give away her dog that she could no longer take care of – it’s all random and subjective impressions.

Little Timmy and Da Vinci have something in common: they saw something, and made it tangible.  If they didn’t do that, their creativity couldn’t vibrate to others.

In schools, arts programs turned into repetitious conditioned activity.  I want kids to go nuts, to open themselves up and let it out.  AND most teachers do not realize when they tell some kids “Oh you are so good at it,” they are not teaching art, but actually damaging their creativity.

Why?  Because Art/Creativity is not about results.  The teacher is just giving one person’s opinion.  The purpose of art is to communicate. Praise on the finished product is a hindrance to creativity.   Because you direct their creativity to make it agreeable with someone else’s opinion.  Why don’t we all LET IT BE.  Please encourage creating, the action itself.  Do not judge – do not tell how good it is, because when you are not saying it, it may say, to other kids, it is not GOOD ENOUGH, and discourage them.  Praise the action.   Nothing makes me happier than seeing kids enjoying the moments of play.

It is not about doing good.  Expectation prevents the free play of thought and the free movement of awareness and attention.  Creativity is natural, organic and flexible.  It allows you to communicate the feeling or urge you have within you.  You may not know what it is, but once you are able to put it out there, it may reach something deep in others, and it will ease the pain of loneliness, the most incurable disease.

My problem was I was always good at what I did.  I expected myself to do well.  I wanted to do good, but somehow forgot the joy of the process.

I may still grow up to be an old bitter woman.  But now, I want to focus on what I can do, rather than what I do well.

What a grand time we all live in.

Happy birth day everyday to our precious minds, all divine creativity on this planet.

Enjoy the ride on this journey, rather than worry about the destination.

64 Responses to “WITHOUT REWARDS – By Kaz”

  1. Simone says:

    Thank you for this article. I run a website for bitter women and right now I have a client who is pregnant. I fear for the baby’s health so I am doing some research of how to assist my client the best I can. And this has been very helpful. So yet again, I desire to thank you sincerely!

    • kaz says:

      Just having a child is a beautiful n grand thing! Bravo to your client! Hope they can do “joy searchings” together for as long as they can.

  2. unstoppable says:

    Kaz you are my favorite blogger on this site. You rock.

  3. Dangerous says:

    your mothers right you are cynic and bitter about life but this is a very enjoyable post. love john lennon,still don’t like yoko.

    • kaz says:

      why you don’t like Yoko?
      I just want to know.

      I am thinking … maybe the story would be different if Yoko looked like Ingrid Bergman. No one talks about how Roberto Rossellini ruined Bergman’s career now….

      • Dangerous says:

        touche. you are right but bergman and rossellini was a different time. no one would care in the 21st century. i’m sorry i just don’t like yoko. you come off as a cynical but warm person, she is an ice princess.

      • kaz says:

        I wonder why she comes across like that. For someone who promotes LOVE n PEACE. We all know that without her, there is no “IMAGINE.” She is a brilliant individual, but has a horrible public image. Maybe it is because she is from a good family (aristocratic!) and does not have “salt of earth” in her? What do you think?

  4. megaman says:

    Another great article. Lots of fun to read.

  5. Berphia Owens says:

    I differ with you on your description of creativity and arts programs. Praise on the finished product is NOT a hindrance to creativity, rather a necessary catalyst to growth. Kids should be complimented and encouraged in developing their talent. I have found that kids excel and blossom the more they are complimented instead of being ignored. Also, creativity is subjective. I have looked at art that literally looks like cow dung where people are oohing and aahing and I see nothing special about it, it’s just what it is – cow dung. An artist is extremely lucky when the majority of people agree that their show of creativity is inspiring or awe-spiring.

    • kaz says:

      SURE. As long as instructors praise EVERYONE on their efforts – without her or his own judgments. YES, it is a good thing to encourage. Give them OPPORTUNITIES to explore.
      I have been teaching acting for the last ten years. I noticed that children who response to praises are also susceptible to criticisms. I rather bring the awareness of “JOY OF CREATION” than to “JOY OF ACCEPTANCE.”

      You cannot avoid criticisms no matter what u do. I believe it is more important to HELP THEM FIND something they feel PASSIONATE about than to give them some momentary satisfaction. I see so many actor-wanna-bes who come to LA simply because they were told they were beautiful and they should be actors. And many of them go back home with the sense of betrayal and disappointment.

      Can we help them to FIND THEIR OWN COMPASS to guide their own lives instead? Even a mother cannot be with her child 24/7 for their rest o’ lives to keep fueling their confidence with her loving praises. When they fall, they have to learn to get up on their own.

      But maybe kids nowadays have that pioneer FIGHTERS’ spirit our ancestors had… Bullies are taking over the world… in many levels! I want to see MIGHTY MOUSES fighting back.

  6. judie says:

    omg, did you take nude photographs with your boyfriend? If so why, especially as it can get on the internet and all that exposure.

    • kaz says:

      I AM SOOOOOOO GLAD you asked me that questions!! THANK YOU!!!

      I am more “greek” when it comes to body/nude/physical value. I have no Judeo/Christian shames about it. I think we are born perfect physically on every stages of our lives – from baby puffy tush to grandma butts! I want to celebrate it all. I have no desire to show (‘off’) my nakiiidness to the public for now, but maybe I will “When I’m 64”!

      Believe or not, Japanese are waaaay more open about it than Americans. I was actually very shocked to see how majority of American (women especially) were sexually extreme… slutty or puritanical.. (like you have to be red or blue, gay or straight, or for or against, etc…).

      I would not recommend to take a nude pic to someone who is emotionally immature though. Too many people put toooooo much value and weights on physical appearance, and I do not think it is healthy.

      BUT also remember – my boyfriend is so damn talented. He is a pro and nothing he shoots comes out porny! (Porny = stimulation of sexuality. something with no aesthetic sense elevation)

      Again – thank you for your questions!!!

      • Judie says:

        I understand your views on nudity better. Looking at your opinion on physical beauty I would also like to know if you want to age gracefully or will you have cosmetic or plastic surgery some point. You are gorgeous.

    • kaz says:

      I do love faces of older people. The personality within would reveal by itself as we age.

      So, if I stay bittahhhh and angry – i would need major plastic surgeries. I would have to have an “ANIME” face put on my scroogy face to broadcast that I REFUSE to age.

      but if I learn to accept as things are and let others who they are, and become gentler and peaceful, I won’t need ANY PLASTIC SURGERY.

  7. Perry says:

    you are such a beautiful woman!!

    OXOXOX

  8. Michael Helms says:

    We are all works in progress. The older I get I seem to enjoy the journey more and put less emphasis on the goal, always reaching, rarely grasping.
    Hopefully bitterness will give way to sweet acceptance.
    Lovely article.

  9. MatthewTaylor says:

    I wanted to take time to let you know how much your work lightend my day. It is great how a piece like yours can make people smile. Hope you make more writing like this one.

  10. Jim Fitzgerald says:

    Kaz, you never cease to amaze me with your insight and whit. I am a landscape photographer and when I’m out in the field I am very passionate about what I do and this carries over into everyday life. If I take an image or not it does not matter. Being happy with life is what matters. If my art is accepted and praised so be it. I really do not care. I am happy to be alive to do what I truly love.

    I must say though that when one’s work touches someone deeply it means everything to me. Had that happen to a friend of mine’s mother. She lives in Tokyo and was very sick due to the intense heat they had some while back. She is elderly and at one point was not expected to live. My friend sent her a copy of one of my images over the internet and the life force in my image gave this woman the will to live! As an artist there is no greater gift. It is the single greatest compliment I have ever received. So their are rewards but I never look for them. I just share what is in my heart as a photographer. You know bear my soul.
    Love your blog and amazing comments

    • kaz says:

      Art is just a ladder to inner strength. SO glad to hear another story about the powerful art becoming another reminder to one’s spirit!!! OH YEAHHH!

  11. Michael Cline says:

    Kaz, your expertise and love for the craft makes me want to try harder. Your authentic caring and respect for the individual artist like myself makes me like myself…more.

  12. Paul Linke says:

    Kaz,

    I love your perspective on things. You have a unique voice and I always enjoy it.

    • kaz says:

      I always enjoy your performance, too. Looking forward to see your next stage production! You have a wonderful glorious presence on stage. with love –

  13. Raf says:

    Kaz beautiful lady, you are one amazing woman with a rare combination of beauty, brains and insight. In your comments to @Judie you I wanted to read more on your views on Japanese and American sexuality, you ended just as it was getting interesting. A blog on that would be interesting to see the differences. Thanks.

    • kaz says:

      Indeed – Jodi asked us a wonderful question!

      I grew up with bunch of naked women around me. There were naked women … in the theatre back stage…. in the public bath … in the hot spring at my vacation spots.

      So there was no “NAKED = SEX!”
      We are all naked underneath and it was never something I should be ashamed of.

      Japanese are known for inventing some perversity through classical art, porn to anime.

      What we call “perversity ” is 1) something we don’t talk about, or 2) something we are but refused to admit.
      In Japan, there is some strange kind of acceptance about perversity. The society asks you to be the member of the society: Complete your responsibilities – but at the same time, they do NOT try to control your personal life.

      Japan is VERY VEGAS! What you do in your personal time stays personal.

      So if your wife or husband does not satisfy you, there is a place you can go – sexually and NON sexually (like … many Americans go to therapists…. it is pretty much the same thing… I won’t go there because I KNOW I would get more comments than I can handle) .

      But going back to the sexuality… I was never taught sexuality is a sin. Rudeness is a sin. Walking around naked is just plain rude. I won’t do it in the public for THAT reason.

      ANOTHER reason I do not show my naked pictures is that I do not want to encourage YOUNG SOFT BRAINED CHICKS to do the same. So many of them put too much weights on the sexuality. They think it is the power to control men to get what they want, while they are controlled by their prenotion.

      That is pretty lazy – if you want something, WORK FOR IT, for gods’ sake!

      Yeah… lazy people make me bittah..

      Thank you for your insightful question!!! I really enjoy people who make me think more.

      Have a joyful weekend.

    • Raf says:

      I knew you would not disappoint in your answer. Thank you. I say again I really enjoy reading your work and will read anything you have to say on anything. Big Fan. Best regards.

  14. Shea says:

    I love the extraordinary clarity in your writing, it makes me feel like I know you. I wish you success in your relationship with your photographer boo. I hope it lasts and those pictures don’t end up on the internet! :-)

    • kaz says:

      Thank you – maybe I DO know you! LOL!
      If any of my pix ends up on internet – lucky them! That is not something I worry about. But thank you for your concern. Happy Halloween!

    • monsoonwinds says:

      I like your spirit. I like you even more with that attitude. Keep your light shining on others.

  15. phillip says:

    you are getting better with age.

  16. diamondmine says:

    kaz, i like your free spirit. in all your writings you sound like a fun hot mama. but you also sound also intelligent and caring.

    • kaz says:

      I am just faking it till making it… even though i am not sure what “making” it means. Making … Pancakes? Thank you for taking a look at this site! Wuv!

  17. Strident227 says:

    Is your boyfriend white, black or asian?

    • kaz says:

      My boy friend is not a squash. Yellow, black or white. I don’t like to put a label based on a color. He is sweet n mellow… wait… it still sounds like he is a squash!

    • Strident227 says:

      still sounds like a squash. :-) why are you uncomfortable with the question.

  18. delited says:

    Ms Kaz I love this blog. I looked at your other posts and what I enjoy most is your honesty. I don’t agree with you about your concept of art (but that is what art is all about, perception), or aging or taking nude pictures or your attitude to your mohter, but I like your honesty. Your writing is also charming and that makes it hard to diss you, even if I want to.

  19. Jasmine says:

    Dear Kaz
    I truly enjoyed reading your article. I thought I got bitter as I got older, but I realized I am getting clear more and more about the things I do want and I do not want in my life.

  20. PhotogGal says:

    Love photography. Love pretty much everything about it. I love to talk about it. I love to dream about it. I see the wonderful inspiring ocean shots online and wish I can be the one taking it. yeah, that’s my dream. I see what your boyfriend sees when he looks at you through the lens of his camera. your inner beauty. Sarah

    • kaz says:

      You are so LUCKY to be able to surround yourself with SO MUCH LOVE! I am sure it radiates through your photographs, too.
      Keep rockin!!!

  21. seahorse23 says:

    bad idea those pictures.

  22. larry says:

    Your writing shows you have a zeal for life that is endearing. Your views are a bit weird. You should be doing standup.

  23. Groundhog Day says:

    Republicans kicked ass yesterday. What are your views on Sarah Palin and the Tea Party movement?

    • kaz says:

      I think they should practice what they preach. They should be having a tea party to talk about good ol’ day with their buddies. And I am sure they would be good at that.

  24. TSK says:

    Interesting blog but underneath all this charming stuff is probably a sad, bitter scared little girl. At least in some way you are upfront about your issues.

  25. today23 says:

    i’m like u don’t like people pleasers and ass kissers. ur post is gr8.

  26. Girl From Ipanema says:

    Yoko wasn’t pretty then and she aint pretty now, only a moron would waste time wondering if Yoko is pretty and take her clothes off for her boyfriend’s pictures.Silly goose :-)

    • kaz says:

      i would say … “Don’t waste your time on internet.” Blog reading is not for you. Read REAL books to come up with some valuable opinions.

    • Cookooroo says:

      who gives an elephant’s big @#$% whether she takes her clothers off or not. go frickin cry on somoene else’s shoulder!!!


  27. sunshine777 says:

    FABULOUS blog. Beauty and brains fight for dominance. It’s a tie. :-) Keep up the good work Kaz.

  28. emeraldisle says:

    I like this blog alot alot alot.way cool man lil asian.

  29. me says:

    give me now – live today and don’t worry about tomorrow. i like your life outlook.

    • kaz says:

      True… because there is ONE TOMORROW that doesn’t come. Today is all we got. Experience is the only thing we can take it with us!!! Happy Holidays!

  30. R. Thomas says:

    Kaz, would love to see your version of the John/Yoko photo. Please share. :-)

  31. me says:

    happy holidays!!

  32. sugarpie says:

    I LOVE your blog Kaz. What are your views on marriage,

  33. BVT says:

    your sense of humor is incredibly infectious. kaz i adore the way you express yourself and you don’t take yourself seriously.

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