My life has been one of many changes. They continue.
We need to step back a bit to get a better perspective of what has led to my present choices.
A current influence has been my ever increasing obsession with myshakuhachi. For four years now, I have been pursuing that state where there is no difference between Kundan and his shakuhachi. At times, recently, I have felt something that might be this illusory state whispering by like a passing feather on the edge of my aura.
The external manifestation of this experience has been a series of continuing jumps in the quality of my playing on these beautifully crafted lengths of bamboo. It has been a snowballing effect that, at times, finds me striding around my rooms exclaiming in difficult to believe joy.
These experiences resulted in my decision, not so long ago, to set aside my Great European Cycling Adventure to better focus on my shakuhachi evolution. A difficult decision but one that felt right for me. My new plan was announced as the “Pacific Solution”. It involved two visits to Japan for study and travel with a visit to California in the middle. Such a plan led me to a renewed inculcating of the Japanese language into this predominately monolingual brain.
I finally took the bull by the horns and truly learned the two 52 character syllabic alphabets. Having accomplished that task successfully, I was so chuffed that I ventured on into expanding my few readings of the Chinese ideograms that were adopted and adapted by our Japanese ancestors. I am pleased to say that I have made some progress with my present regular recognition of approximately 125 Kanji. Just a few days ago, I added another dozen to the study list in my flash card app.
Concurrent with the advancement of two streams of study, I commenced with the logistical side of my new venture. There was the calculation of travel dates based on seasonal variations and the availability of accommodation in Chichibu as well as my teacher’s presence in his hometown. I found myself with four weeks in the late spring to travel by thumb and couch through western Japan. This was something that I had been promising myself for some years. It was a further stimulus to my language studies.
A departure date of 23 March was set and tickets purchased well in advance. (My good friend Anagara’s 60th Birthday Party was influential on the settling of this date.) I began accumulating equipment and supplies. Lists and gifts and ideas. I visited all my various health care practitioners . Excitement rose as preparations advanced apace. I found a buyer for my car with incredible easy. The time drew nigh. Five weeks shakuhachi intensive in Chichibu here I come. I had postponed a trip earlier in the year and I could hardly wait.
All was in Harmony in Heaven and on Earth.
Then, one evening, I had the urge to tune into the ABC news channel earlier than usual. The helicopters were just beginning the live broadcast of the tsunami as it swept through Sendai. I watched stunned and unaware of how much this would impact my life.
As the tragedy in Northeastern Japan unfolded, my concern was for those affected directly and indirectly grew. My own travel plans were not in doubt. I grew up in LA where earthquakes were a normal part of life. When I lived in Tokyo in the late ’70’s, I would be woken in the night by strong tremblers. I would roll over and go back to sleep. I am a fatalist in relation to earthquakes.
However, as the days passed other factors began to disturb me. The most obvious being the developing crisis at the Fukushima nuclear power plant. Still, my concern focused on the stress being experienced by the people and infrastructure of the Sendai and Tokyo regions. I was scheduled to fly into Tokyo in a weeks time. No one could say what would happen in that time. I was hoping for the best but I decided that I did not feel right to add to the strain being experienced in the Tokyo region. I made plans instead to go to Kyoto to wait until I felt it was right to be travel to Chichibu. I would still be in Japan and I had planned to to visit Kyoto and Nara during this visit. I would just change my schedule in this way and wait there as things resolved.
On Thursday, I visited a close friend and told him of my change of plans. My friend replied, “I understand how difficult it is for you to change you plans to visit Japan. However, all of the people of Japan are going through a time of trauma, grieving and incredible uncertainty. They need to sort this out themselves. You would be intruding if you went there now. It wouldn’t be right for you to go to Japan now.”
The truth of my friend’s words struck home. When I left his house, I went directly to my travel agent and began arrangements to cancel my existing ticket and book a flight direct from Australia to California. When I got home, I rang my teacher, Kaoru, and told him of my decision. I felt unable to adequately explain myself. I was in emotional turmoil. I did not feel any sense of relief that I have avoided any possible danger. I feel a deep sadness for the situation of the people of Japan that has caused me to reach my decision. I let go as the sadness poured through me. I came to peace with it.
The possibility of spending time with my family in California is very welcome. My thoughts and heart are constantly with Japan as I continue on my journey.
Let the light shine from our hearts to all parts of this world.