Ame ni mo Makezu

not losing to the rain

not losing to the wind

not losing to the snow nor to summer’s heat

with a strong body

unfettered by desire

never losing temper

cultivating a quiet joy

every day four bowls of brown rice

miso and some vegetables to eat

in everything

count yourself last and put others before you

watching and listening, and understanding

and never forgetting

in the shade of the woods of the pines of the fields

being in a little thatched hut

if there is a sick child to the east

going and nursing over them

if there is a tired mother to the west

going and shouldering her sheaf of rice

if there is someone near death to the south

going and saying there’s no need to be afraid

if there is a quarrel or a suit to the north

telling them to leave off with such waste

when there’s drought, shedding tears of sympathy

when the summer’s cold, wandering upset

called a blockhead by everyone

without being praised

without being blamed

such a person

I want to become

-Kenji Miyazawa

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Placid Small Thought No. 2

Has anyone who has ever desired to read not also felt compelled to write? It seems only natural, the feeling that, for me, also compelled me to first pick up an instrument. But as there are only listeners of music, there will also always be only readers of books; because I am incapable of entirely separating the two sides, because reading and writing seem somehow inextricably joined, I will never know if these “only-readers” are satisfied–or even proud of not writing–as if they have successfully avoided adulterating their romance by attempting something that feels so much alien to the pleasure derived from the simple relationship of reader to page. I will never know if there is a type of satisfaction that is the particular purview of the reader, or if instead the compulsion to write does exist somewhere in these only-readers, like the princess and the pea, a consistently unfulfilled longing that dulls with time into an ache.

What kind of sickness is it that prevents me from being able to completely enjoy a book? It is a feeling that I am touching some deep mystery, and that by writing, I might come closer to deciphering its secrets. It is the compulsion to listen and to speak, when the topic of conversation becomes something that is too important to ignore, something that you had never known could be revealed to you in such a way, but which, now that it has been, feels so new as to extract your reaction almost before you’ve noticed, like a gasp or a sigh.