Well, I’ve been coasting this winter, mostly doing research, reading whatever I can grab that either fulfills the self-imposed requirements of ‘research’ or whatever comforts, satisfies. This last varies, but I keep coming back to the soothing nature of Japanese classical literature. Tanka, waka, biographies with work attached of Ono no Komachi, Saigyo, Basho, and the works of Royall Tyler (“Japanese Tales”, which are ‘fairy tales’ of a folk, horror nature), another attempt to settle down and plow seriously into Ruth Benedict’s “The Chrysanthemum and the Sword” (a dated but weighty book on the Japanese written during WWII from her anthropological studies and interviews of interned Japanese in the US), Morris Berman’s “Coming to Our Senses” (and excellent and too far ranging book), and most recently, Albert Hourani’s “A History Of The Arab Peoples”, which was started recently for more research for “Tin Hinan”, but is actually so well written it’s something I climb into bed for comfort at the end of the day.
This past week I’ve needed comfort, or perhaps a realization that some ‘friendships’ are not what you need in life: or perhaps I need some ‘smudging’, a clean broom or something to dispel negative energy left by a short-lived houseguest. Although we had little winter, I am ready for spring and all the changes to come.
When she was finally gone, (after changing plans repeatedly) it was a great relief. But the negative energy she left behind was ‘real’. I felt the house needed to be purged. It was that bad. So I opened windows, vacuumed, moved furniture around (the ‘go to’ when I need a change in environment or am bored….) and then on the suggestion of a dear friend, burned some candles and tried a little ritual of “bad be gone”.
It was a process that took all week, and I kept finding different and annoying remains of her around the house, like her cast off toothbrush left on the tub rim. I kept throwing things out. In case I sound intolerant, yes I am. Guilty as charged. It’s been a halting process, but it has rewards. I should have developed this ‘aspect’ of my personality a while ago. I think women in general tolerate too much in life: stupid, insulting, demeaning people because they are relatives or because we have assumed the position so long that we don’t realize the nature of things. We are numb to insults thrown out by hurtful people. Either we can’t believe our ears or we don’t want to ‘rush to judgment’. Hah! That kind of behavior only emboldens these kind of people because they are insensitive to what they do…most times. If they do it on purpose, they generally fall on the side of sadism and nobody really likes a sadist.
Perhaps we finally find our place in the sun. I know it took a long time for me to do so. I am considered accomplished enough, but it took years to ‘own’ those accomplishments. Perhaps that has something to do with my intolerance now. I refuse to have fools and ignorant people around me. I refuse to accomadate them, and if I lose ‘friends’ …well, so what.
I have a 99 year old Aunt I call “Mother”, and she calls me “Daughter”. It has taken many years for this to happen, but we both know that there isn’t much time left on the earth to acknowledge our deep love and respect for the other. She has told me many things that makes sense of my family life, and I have told her many things of great concern. I love her deeply, and find that her love, instead of having to reach for it….reaches down to me. She is not only a cherished relative, but she is a friend. I know that this can’t be forever, but I write to her every week, and call her, too, and she does the same. I just wish, and I say this with tears, that I had done so earlier in my life. She gives me love I have never understood because it is constant and it is unconditional.
My aunt is a regal and elegant woman. She knows her place in the sun, but she does have regrets. I know she teaches me many things, and her age is no barrier in this. Perhaps tolerating people who ‘grate’ on the mind is one of them. It’s not just good health that gets you to 99. Perhaps it’s something else. Perhaps it’s called grace.
(I love it when a reader, in this case, a fine poet, Yousei Hime, suggests an illustration to go with a poem. I went to Google one, and my own painting was in the Google Image pile…LOL! And it was under the caption: “Pitcher of Moon”. Now, it’s not really a moon picture, but it is late dusk, and the sky is reflected in the pond…but what are the chances that this painting would pop up under that caption? Thank you, Yousei Hime, for suggesting an illustration. Good thing I had something to post that I didn’t have to steal!)
Pitcher of Moon
I dip into the pond
And gather a pitcher of moon.
Above it glimmers,
Smiles at my efforts
This late-winter moon.
It is just a bowl of cool water
I am holding
But the magic of the cosmos settles
In this plain clay vessel.