Recession, Training and Reverie
Had it not been for the financial crisis in 2008, my dreams would have never come true… had it not been for the school I enrolled in, I would never be able to make my dreams come true.
When life gave me lemons, I learned to make lemonade!
Like many others, I was one of the victims of post-2008 recession who lost their jobs. At that time I was an office employee and a bonsai enthusiast, with an unconfessed (not too much, actually) determination to become a bonsai professional.
There are two things I am good at: accounting and bonsai art. So I took heart and went to do what I have never done in 38 years: searching for a job!
I decided, though, to skip office positions and I followed my heart. They say fortune favours the bold and it’s true! My Lady Fortune was the lovely Mrs. Nara Franchi, daughter of Costantino, one of the pioneers of Italian bonsai art and collection. She showed her own kindness and generosity, proving that the apple doesn’t fall far from the tree.
Not to far from home, at literally 30 minutes drive, there is one the most important historic sites of Italian Bonsai: Franchi Bonsai Center.
This is where my new job (or dream) will begin: being the curator of the Bonsai Museum and of the wonderful trees in the Nara Franchi collection. Assisting and complementing Lorenzo Agnoletti’s precious work, I will take care of these wonderful plants.
There are no words to describe what it feels like, but you can tell me by the smile on my face.
…To be in the right place at the right time! As fate would have it.
Now I have an interesting, though demanding, job ahead of me. I am aware what makes me so elated is the recognition of what I have to do and what I can do.
I pause to ponder…
This is just the last one of my proudest accomplishments (I definitely do not like talking of successes) achieved through years of passion and dedication. Winning the Italian Talent Prize, demo at the last UBI congress, being a certified IBS teacher, mentoring a growing number of students was only possible because I undertook an educational path that gave me the necessary knowledge go deeper into bonsai practice.
When in 2001 I joined the Sandro Segneri’s Bonsai Creativo School I never imagined I would have gone this far.
The beginning years with a self-taught method were, understandably, full of mistakes and convoluted, that is why relying in a talented teacher such as Sandro was my best choice.
I am a strong advocate of an extended, consistent educational path, if somebody really wants to grow in the bonsai practice.
According to my personal experience there are two caveats not to be missed: the temporal continuity of work and a unique learning methodology.
In the initial phase it could be tricky to learn from different teachers as this could easy lead to confusion. Indeed, the naivety of a rookie, with his lack of basic knowledge, mixed with the urge of learning would simply result in a superficial, fragmented, often inconsistent knowledge. On the other side, a unique tailored learning method might allow to learn gradually, unambiguously, therefore effectively.
As we know, there are many ways to train a tree: it is definitely better to learn one meticulously. You definitely do not want to learn the hard way! That is actually part of my story: before joining Sandro’s school I was learning from various teachers. They all were extremely talented, but unfortunately, often, the notions clashed. With a single teacher the path is always consistent.
To all this, we must remind that learning continuity is crucial too.
Undeniably, a long-term project can help you to better understand, sharpen and refine your techniques into the most subtle aspects. Although basics could be learned easily, it is so wrong to assume that doing bonsai is just shaping and styling. This word in miniature stands on the daily work and the evolution of the plant itself.
A teacher can help you advance organically, consistently and without having to learn the hard way.
Bonsai is not a race, nor a destination: it is a never-ending journey.
This is what Sandro passed down to me: the possibility to gradually and consistently learn. That is why I enjoyed every single minute, of the seven years, I spent at his school. Indeed, Sandro’s school empowered me to find an authentic way, pleasure and meaning in Bonsai art.
You can recognize a good teacher not just in how much he knows, but how, with patience, empathy and resilience, he has the ability to offer you the knowledge when you are able to understand and apply it. When I look back I clearly see how this method is right.
When you have learnt the aesthetic quality and the all techniques from your teacher you can feel free to broaden your horizon with other teachers you might find on your path.
It’s at this stage I found Sandro’s Academy, which is actually the advanced education section of BCSA . Sharing a view and cooperate with other teachers helped me refine and deepen my knowledge; the course of studies at the Academy is very intense and I still have 3 years to go.
Sandro’s school and the Academy has given me the tools I need to proceed alone in my bonsai path. This is an important highlight to analyse: a school is not meant to make you come home with a more refined tree, but, in my book, means that from that school you have learn how to refine that tree alone, by yourself. Only by becoming independent you get a real growth.
Yes, things are not easy and the apprentice must be focused and driven, can’t either be apathetic, but he must fully trust his teacher’s teachings.
It might sounds odd, but it is just when you can test yourself that you can fathom your leaning ability. The trials at the Academy serve precisely to give confirmation, not to the teacher, but to the student himself of the growth of his capabilities.
I am a strong advocate of the philosophical rationale for this method and the results prove me right.
I have a long lasting collaboration with Sandro, for whom I have a profound respect and I am deeply thankful to all those have contributed to my education. The same for everybody I had the opportunity to meet at school, everybody shaped and refined my knowledge and my education. Undeniably, a school or team’s added value is given my the possibility to see and participate in a lot of work and the continuous sharing of ideas and experiences.
There’s still so much to learn and I am so thrilled about. Three more years at the Academy will definitely increase my abilities and awareness.
Well, the good part is that the path of Bonsai has lead me to demo in important exhibitions, teaching other friends and being a curator of some important private collections like Gianfranco Giorgi’s and Franchi Bonsai Center.
Now the Museum is waiting for me. I open the door and I see that Japanese Maple and I smile with my eyes… sometime dreams can come true.
September 20th, 2009.