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August: The Return of Souls

August is peak summer season in Japan.  We can look forward to some of the most spectacular fireworks displays and festivals in the world, ...

Simple Beauty


Fall has fallen upon us in reds and yellows. Just the other day as I was sitting in an open air bath in the midst of a lush thicket I was engulfed by a thick mist of calcium and sulfur. In the thick of it, I was thinking to myself…why are all the simple things in life taken for granted ? .


The air was cool across my body as I stood to stretch my arms and legs. I yawned and then I watched the steam permeate off my skin as onsen water percolated from a bamboo sheave somewhere behind me – not a care in the world. “If all things in life were this simple “.


After returning from ten glorious days in Turkey I got tired of paying for bottled water and toilets. And then there was the sub par food and poor customer service which finally took its toll on me. Japan has spoiled me. In Turkey I enjoyed visiting some awesome sights, though. Ten thousand years of history in ten days was way too much for me to be quite honest. Do the Japanese really know how good they have it here in Japan?


So Japan only has roughly about five thousand years of history of which two thousand were centuries of never being conquered by foreigners. Japan was virtually untouched for thousands of years whereas Turkey has known defeat after defeat. Still, Turkey stands today with most of its enormous history and beauty still intact.


Kissing the tarmac after disembarking the plane at Kansai Airport; sniffing burnt rubber and asphalt while my lips savored the hardness of ground. Second sniff, I could smell a little leather here, faint exhaust fumes from a jet engine somewhere. I could hear the mumblings of Japanese speaking Japanese behind me, ground slightly shaking from planes passing by. “Yes, I was back in Japan !” I said to myself.


Reflecting back on Turkey I now realize that Japan is truly a heaven. Since the beginning when God carved this island out of the shape of a samurai sword and infused the emperor with his special gifts this land has flourished and is now the Mecca of Civilization, albiet, for some that is.


Did you know that Japan’s toilets are very clean? I know it…. I’ve often reached heightened states of awareness while sitting on a commode over here in Japan. Sounds like I’ve got too much time on my hands?
I’ve often said to myself that beauty is short lived and that dying young is the key to dying beautifully eternally. 


“Live long and prosper” has always been a popular saying amongst normal folk. I guess they were on to something, especially, when you get so old that you can’t even change your own diapers. When you were a baby it was cute, but at 80 it’s repulsive, that’s why we have nursing homes. It’s always good to be remembered old and dependent upon total strangers who hate you because you’re old and useless – I guess that’s the prosper part.
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How deathly beauty relates to Autumn in all of its Autumnal splendor, is in a sense the meaning of the season. Once spry young leaves turning red and yellow from the cool breeze, and then ever so gently whirling and twirling like beautiful white dervishes that settle into the ground re-uniting with mother earth’s soil, like a union between god and man.


What we take for granted may very well be all that we need to be ultimately happy, and not so much the senseless challenges we create for ourselves for senseless reasons.


I remember having dinner at an expensive restaurant in Malibu, California some years ago. I was trying to impress a date over a nice lobster and some wine. We had an excellent seat overlooking the sea and with that view came a gorgeous golden orange sunset ! It was a priceless moment indeed since I wasn’t the only one enjoying such a nice view. Just below us near our veranda, sitting on a rock was a small family who had a better view than we had This family that was sitting on a large rock with a very cheap nickel-and-dime grill they had bought, along with a pair of tongs were enjoying the same experience; they grilled, ate, and laughed. They were huddles together over the warmth the grill had provided while basking in the sunset all for free. I felt a bit bad because I knew once the bill had came I’d have to fork out an arm and a leg for something I could’ve enjoyed for free, like the family sitting below me did. Maybe he said to himself “ if life were so simple…”

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