A year ago, Hikaru was assigned as my apprentice, but it feels like I’m the one who has been learning from her instead.
Since that first tea ceremony, Hikaru has taught me a myriad of things. What stands out in my mind as I write this now are three of her greatest strengths:
- Smiling. Regardless of every obstacle Hikaru has had to overcome or tragedy she has had to face, (and there have been many, too many for such a soul as young and kind as hers), Hikaru has always made it a point to smile and serve to the utmost of her abilities. It reminds me of the old saying, “Luck is falling bird poop missing your shoulder; will is laughing when the poop drops on your head.”
- Curiosity. Apprenticeship is hard. I’ve seen many lose heart, often because they worry too much about what others think about them. Hikaru, however, has always found a way to others hearts, because she is always curious about how others think. It’s through Hikaru that I’ve also learned that empathy comes from a meeting of humility and curiosity.
- Love. The way Hikaru serves each customer is the same way she cares for each piece of tea ware, every leaf in each cannister of tea she handles – with the utmost respect and joy in having the opportunity to serve. It is that same love that has driven her skills to improve so quickly in such a short period of time. Because Hikaru’s love is selfless, and always for the sake of tea, and the one she is sharing tea with.
Conducting Hikaru’s apprenticeship has been my greatest honor and I could not help but celebrate her 1 year tea anniversary in a way that allows more people to know her. She will likely be embarrassed to see this, but to those of you reading, please do remember her name. She will be a tea master who may very well change the world.
Yours in tea,
Ayaka Li, Tea Master (Silver Rose lineage)
Tea Masters Association Newsletter, Volume #811 Summer