About Me

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California born by a Cuban mother, married to a Japanese man, and have lived in Japan since 2004, minus one year living in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. I have friends and family in many places in the world. I dreamed of traveling to many distant lands, creating music and dancing to it, meeting interesting people, and discovering treasures in the most unlikely of places.

Thursday, November 24, 2011

Why I came to Japan in the first place


This is kind of a response to what my friend Danielle just wrote about, seeing completely new patterns versus creating patterns using old ones. It is about why I originally came to Japan.

When I was a child, I was really very concerned about the environment. I thought a lot about what we could do as a group, as humans, to change our ways. I often cried about the situation. Then my grandparents came to Japan to visit Hiroshima and they brought me back a book on Bonsai. I saw the pictures as something very different from your average topiary or garden tree. Then I found a book on Ikebana (Japanese Flower Arrangement) at a yard sale, and was shocked. The same rhythm could be found there.

It was a movement, a flow; a thought and then a silence and then a change in direction, and again. I saw that the Japanese must appreciate this art form, and since popular art is a reflection of people's hearts, they must think in the same way. I compared it to the noisiness and fullness of Western Art, and thought that if we could possibly learn to not be quite so aggressive and be more thoughtful in our movements, that we could save our world. So that is the original reason why I decided to come to Japan, hoping to learn it so that I could take it back and do something with that knowlege. What I know now is that that Wabi-sabi, Do and Sei, are uncommon in modern Japan, and an equivalence to Western Art is what is popular here now. I can't say that I haven't learned anything about it, but it is much harder to learn than anticipated, and I wonder if it is actually possible. There is, however, an underlying feeling that lingers, but the culture is so complex that it might have been more likely if I had come as a child.

First of all, it is probably not about taking from something or using something, but more about paths, and this is something that I did not understand in my youth. For me, the feeling in Japanese traditional art and life is something like this: it is like a silence that says that there are only a few correct paths that one can take, and that you must decide or be lost in the situation. But no one actually every comes out and says what someone must do, it is something that you have to feel out. Some people tell you, but they are your in-group(family or good friends), and very few. It would be very, very hard to try to teach how to move in this silent, thoughtful way to people who are used to being open and honest and not depending upon a particular path, but who can see that there are more options in the open air. I think that one of the difference in the cultures is that the Japanese think very hard about what the best path to take is, and if not, just stay on the one that they are on. For example, most people have no hobbies or only one, which they do to perfection. Ask them if they are bored. They aren't. In my home country, however, most people have several things that they enjoy doing, and if they aren't then they are bored. Most Japanese people have few friends. This is desirable. They can be silent, simply happy, appreciate the simple things in life, moving nowhere fast, thinking about everything before doing it, perhaps never stepping out of a comfort zone. But when they do decide to move, it is decisive and very strong in its direction. Most of my foreign friends have a lot of friends, and this suits them. Enjoying a variety of different people, working with different ideas, moving forward, somewhere, everywhere, quickly.

The long, slender, silent branch, with a single leaf and two berries, rising out of a small garden of leaves, versus a big bouquet of roses with smaller and bigger other flowers and colors, comes to mind. Many modern Japanese people however, might choose the bouquet over the simple arrangement, if you were to ask them to choose.

A mix of both might be best for our world, if it were possible. A seeking of a path, and then a blossoming into an area, but not too much, and then a change of path, and another blossoming into another area. I think, as in the very beginning at seven years of age, that if we take our time, and stop to think, that we might be able to change.

Sunday, November 6, 2011

Ebi

Ebi passed away yesterday at about 5PM, Shinpei saw him as he was leaving, but did not get to say goodbye. He had eaten several lily leaves, a species similar to the Tiger Lily, and lilies are deadly poisonous to cats... I had left him at the vet the day before, after the vet said that he needed more intravenous. His bodily functions had shut down, and the level of toxins in his blood was at >130, whereas normal is from 8 to 30. He had renal failure.

We had a funeral, and we have been crying non-stop. We loved him so much. Yet there are things that I have learned from this, that I never want to happen again, or that I need to reexamine in my life. Why does it take death or near death for people to change? Why could I not see this before?? I am so angry with myself for not stepping out of the haze of every day, to look at the situation, and do something about it before it was too late.

One thing is that I wasn't aware enough of his body warnings. We tried changing his food when he started getting finicky. I thought it was just a cat thing. We should have taken him to the vet for that. Also, urination went down in frequency. We should have taken him in for that. Every six months, a check up at the vet, and he would still be with us. Cats and Dogs can't say how they feel. Ebi, in particular, was a lot like me. I don't like throwing up, neither did he. He wouldn't throw up, even when he felt really bad. He also didn't show physical pain. When the vets gave him his shots, he was really quiet and just looked uncomfortable. So I should have recognized chenges in bodily waste and eating habits, and taken him in.

The other thing, and this hurts so badly to think about, is that he was so miserable. He was so very lonely and sad. We had been looking for another cat, but we didn' find one in time... I actually thought of two, but one I should have taken in and didn't, and then she dissappeared along with several other cats the very next weekend(I felt horrible about that, because I could have saved her, and I could have given him a friend, but she wasn't exactly what I wanted so I didn't though I felt that I should. This was in July). He was still eating well in July, but he had urination problems according to Shinpei. So, note to self, if one person goes to the vet, the same person should go to the vet, feed, clean, and talk to the vet, or else importan information might be lost. Then Angel came to stay with us for a week in August. Ebi was in Heaven, he was so happy. He didn't want to go outside, and wasn't restless, his playmate was there. Then Angel went home, and Ebi was miserable for four days, searching and calling for his friend. That was when I decided that he must have a friend, or something bad might happen. Then the rabbit came, and stayed with us for a month, and Ebi was fascinated with Pippin, but scared of him at the same time, and would run away from him, but follow him around. When the rabbit found a new home, Ebi didn't call for him, but he looked for him all over the house for a few days, and he would look woefully at where he had been. And then when we would come home he would try to excape outside. We think it was to look for the rabbit. But after three days he stopped trying hard, and would stand at the door waiting for us. He always wanted to go outside, and in Saga, I would let him out every now and then, but he got crazy and started going far, and then we would take him out on a leash. But since we moved to the ocean and the highway, and I got busy, then Shinpei got busy, we took him out less and less, and then these last few months he was alone all day until late at night... he must have been so horribly lonely...

I feel so strongly that, yes, he had a problem with his kidneys, and I think that if he had been happy, it would have never happened. Shinpei says he was happy, and he was sometimes. We played with him, and petted him, and talked to him and loved him. But we didn't give him what he needed the most for his heart, a friend to play with. And when I sat at the computer, and he would go nuts in the afternoon, I should have really looked at that, and asked myself what it meant, what HE needed. Because he couldn't tell me with words. Its so easy to look back now that he's gone and I'm in tears, that he just needed me to take him outside. I was so selfish with my time, and I didn't think about how HIS every day was. I just thought I could get him a friend, and everything would be better, but I needed to open my eyes to the warning signs of illness, and the body language, that would have been love.