Friday, April 1, 2011

On Luck & Suffering

I know what you're thinking: Did he fire six shots, or only five? Well, to tell you the truth, in all this excitement, I've kinda lost track myself. But being as this is a .44 Magnum, the most powerful handgun in the world, and would blow your head clean off, you've got to ask yourself one question: Do I feel lucky? Well do ya? 
asked Dirty Harry

Feeling lucky here: Got to see my family and my husband's family on this break all while enjoying pleasant weather. It is a wonder to have so many hands to help out and love the munsters. The arrival of cousins has an amazing absorption effect- less energy for mamas to manage- as they endeavor to amuse themselves with games and activities. We prepare to leave here on a fine sunny day. The beach house with the view of the water, a pool, a hot tub, the breezes on the porch, the margarita machine, and time to spend with everyone has been grand. My pants are tight from all of the indulgences of local treats- fried grouper, sour cream cake donuts, and meals out. I am loving the use of the dryer which makes laundry a snap. Even cooking meals seems so easy with grandparents, aunts and uncles, and cousins around. Much of my daily labor is absent here or made easier.

But I always have a strange response to these tracts of time that are removed from the daily grind. I wish I could like being in Lala Land endlessly, but I begin to long for home and routine even with all of the fabulousness of time away. Long weekends are not an option when it takes fifteen hours to fly here. Whatever craziness life offers us at home in Japan, it is our home even if it is a foreign country; it is where our routines dwell and where we are altogether.

I called home today. My husband told me about a story in the Yomiuri Times, our local English language paper, with a photo of a little girl asleep at the kotatsu heated table. She had fallen asleep after having written a letter to her mother. It said, "Dear Mommy, I hope you are alive. Are you well?" Her mother, father, and sister disappeared in the tsunami. Her grandmother wants to take her home, but she wants to wait for her family. She is waiting for her dad to call her; she has his cell phone. She is four years old. This is a face of disaster. And yet she was saved they think because her backpack was caught up in fishing wire. That is amazing.

I remember listening to a radio show on NPR now called "On Being" about a man who befriended his son's killer; it was about forgiveness (http://being.publicradio.org/programs/2010/revenge-forgiveness/). It was hard to imagine this kind of healing in the space of a show in my car, but I could see why it was needed.

The Buddhist adage is that life is suffering but in accepting this thought we can then let it go and be free of it- takes a zen master to fully realize, but I keep thinking on it.

Out of suffering have emerged the strongest souls; the most massive characters are seared with scars.
Kahlil Gibran

Every life has its own path, but every life is better with generosity, giving, and letting go of that we cannot change. If we do not let go of pain, hate, loss, or any other name of suffering, it will poison us all of our days. My hope is that the survivors find their way back to smiles and find ways to let go of so much suffering. Those rituals and routines of daily life are part of what save us from our suffering. Starting school again, returning home, and the work of everyday are a good thing.