The bicycle I rented at the hostel was trudging uphill in the outskirt of Kyoto. I ended up in a solitary street with no cars, trees bordering both sides of the narrow alley. The green foliage not only offered a welcomed respite from the burning sun but also allowed the surrounding temperature to drop a couple of degrees. I kept cycling in the pleasantness of the morning without really knowing my way, until I saw a stone entrance with a pitched roof, so common for temples. It was open, and the coolness of the hill was a clear invitation to a stopover. After a brief purification ritual at the wooden water tank, I approached the main building, leaving my flat sandals outside before entering. My bare feet got soothed and tingled by the natural material of the large open space structure: light coloured wood, tatami, then more wood, coarse and dark, until I reached the back, where a sliding screen made of bamboo and rice paper opened on a beautiful garden; there, maples and ginkgo trees framed a traditional zen garden. That part of the building was higher than the garden and I sat down on the edge of the lacquered and waxed floor, letting my legs hanging out, rays of sun reaching my skin and warming it up. It was the most amazing natural garden I ever saw. I knew that there was nothing placed there by chance, everything had been carefully planned. Still, the nature was such an integral part of the temple, so close and alive, and yet untouched, that any human plan seemed to have been overthrown by the swarming nature. Only the thousands puny stones of the zen garden were a reminder of the man presence, the silent larger stone in the middle of the garden overseeing waves of grooves, painstakingly dug each morning, stroke after stroke, by a human´s hand with an empty mind, digging, digging, one long groove, from north to south, after the other. I looked at the unspoiled cobble pound, futilely grooved for perfection. A perfection which was both ephemeral and delusive, a perfection which would dissipate with a single step of a human being, just a single one. I felt one corner of my mouth raising into half a smile as I thought that perfection could not coexist with the messiness of being human.

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