Life in Tokyo can only be interesting and challenging if you make an effort to see it from a different point of view.
One of the things I’ve always loved about the Thanksgiving holiday in America is that more often than not it falls right on or around my birthday, November 26. Here in Japan it is already the 26th so I can bathe in all that cross- world cheer going on on the lighter shade of pale end of the globe. All those people unwittingly celebrating my birth! And going out of their way to bake, broil, roast, boil, saute, flambe, rotisserie, simmer, fry, deep fry, stir fry, chill, freeze, mix, toss, and stuff that groaning weight of delectable table fare, just in honor of my coming into the world! How nice of them! Like an offering. Or a tribute. They even brave the binary storms of air traffic control to ratchet across their landscapes, pulling together for genetic camaraderie, all to thank me for my existence. I must say, that though I never asked for it, there is a wonderful sense of delight, knowing that people will even go on holiday and proclaim a national weekend off so that I might have a day to myself, comfortably ensconced in a cornucopia of food. Winter may be coming, but the fat that will build up will last until spring: the closest form of nature worship that I could have hoped for. I feel like the Green Man or Bacchus. The revelers dancing for plenty and sheer forgetfulness!
Well, I am 44 now. I had promised myself that by this date I would get myself into Adonis-like shape and go prancing in the hills alone, in search of Diana and her stag. Unfortunately the bud of a belly still rings my Saturn and the mountain I plan to climb when the light reaches these longitudes will extract more grunts and heavy footfalls than willow-like grace. But the heart is dancing more than it has been in months, like a little satyr, and I’ve even taken to singing. I hope the clouds clear enough for me to view the snowy tresses of Mt. Fuji from my favorite secret spot to the south; for a day I want to feel small and insignificant, just the pinprick of awareness behind these eyes lost to the vast serenity of Fuji’s great seat. A day for stilling my existence and losing myself in anonymity, celebrating the integration of myself with the wind and leaves. The joy of the windblown soul.
To all those who celebrate it, I raise my glass and toast to your lives and your hearts, for Thanksgiving, in its original sense. Thank you for your company and thanks for the gift of life. Thanks all around for another year. And thanks to the Earth for giving me this moment of simple joy, of being alive on her shores, and for the passage of night and day, toward another rounding of the trail along the sides of the mountains.
It is so good to be alive.
I can’t help it: I love coffee. It sends me ricocheting off the walls whenever I drink it, but, after a cupped handful of mountain spring water, there is no other drink that quite fills the spot. There is something about the bitter, furry bite that greets the mouth with a hospitality not unlike a warm embrace from a lover, and the desire for more never quite slips away, no matter how much you resolve to abstain. Walk into a room pulsing with the musk of coffee and, like the scent of a lover’s body, the antennae in your brain spring up and the floor turns to clouds.
With my diabetes I really shouldn’t be drinking the stuff, and for the most part I restrain myself. But occasionally the gastronomic bad boy in my taste buds gulls me into adultery against the jug of fresh lemon-flavored water in my refrigerator. I woke up this morning unrepentant after a brief affair with two cups of coffee last night, which kept me up half the night, half delirious and lusting for more.
To my dismay I found the coffee jar empty when I attempted to steal one last sip a little while ago. All that was left were the mug and the spoon. Even a look through the rest of the kitchen drawers provided no relief.