Friday, May 10, 2013

The Wisdom of Japanese Poetry About the Samurai on a Random Friday For When Normal Means are Not Enough

Writing online is an exercise in personal social history. Digital spaces, such as blogs and other online projects, are also a type of virtual archive. They are also projects born of narcissism--in the best sense--that can provoke, reveal, extend, and broaden the public discourse and consciousness.

But sometimes you just want to share what is on your mind or a bit of found knowledge with your online people. And what day is better for such an exercise than a random Friday?

Life is full of decisions and crossroads. The challenge is that sometimes the little choices we take for granted can have out-sized (and surprising implications) later on in life.

When I have to make a big decision or am faced with a personal challenge, I meditate, drink a Sapporo (or three), feed the birds some old french fries, eat a good meal, talk to a friend, and read a trusted book.

Ultimately, sometimes our day-to-day challenges, in either personal or professional life, can seem so overwhelming and impossible to negotiate because we are too close to the problem.

For example, if you are standing at the base of a mountain and looking up at the peak it looks damn near impossible to climb; but, once you start to climb and make progress you can begin to see that this is a manageable challenge. Moreover, if one is especially lucky that challenge can actually improve you, the climber, bringing a person closer to their long-term goal.

One of my books for meditative soul searching is the samurai training guide and "bible" The Hagakure.

I discovered The Hagakure approximately ten years ago. I always return to it when I am under pressure or feeling imperiled.

Here are two of my favorite passages.


“There is something to be learned from a rainstorm. When meeting with a sudden shower, you try not to get wet and run quickly along the road. But doing such things as passing under the eaves of houses, you still get wet. When you are resolved from the beginning, you will not be perplexed, though you will still get the same soaking. This understanding extends to everything.” 
“When one is writing a letter, he should think that the recipient will make it into a hanging scroll.”
What songs, poetry, quotes, or other found wisdom do you lean on when navigating difficult waters?


chauncey devega said...

Don't give away any secrets ;)

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Werner Herzog's Bear said...

I have often returned to _Candide_ by Voltaire in tough times. It's all about how life is cruel and unpredictable, but in the end, we can still devote ourselves to things with true meaning.

I also go back to _The Empire Strikes Back_, and Yoda's lines about "luminous beams, not this crude matter."

CNu said...

Enter the Wu-Tang 36 Chambers

Can It Be That It Was All So Simple


physioproffe said...

Sapporo's Yebisu premium beer is outstanding, and is--as far as I have seen--the only Japanese beer that you can get in the US that is actually brewed in Japan. Kirin Ichiban and the regular Sapporo are brewed here in the US.

chauncey devega said...

Yebisu? Didn't know that. Now I got to try some tonight. You corrupt me. Any other suggestions? Have you ever had that Bell's dandelion beer?

chauncey devega said...

Can it be so simple is an underrated classic. CREAM is as plan a description of the world as it is that I have heard in many years.

chauncey devega said...

You know me and ANH and Empire. When look looks at the twin suns on Tattooine I know exactly how he feels.

gordon_gartrelle said...

One that I've been revisiting recently is "The Reception" by the late, great June Jordan:

Doretha wore the short blue lace last night
and William watched her drinking so she fight
with him in flying collar slim-jim orange
tie and alligator belt below the navel pants uptight

"I flirt. You hear me? Yes, I flirt.
Been on my pretty knees all week
to clean the rich white downtown dirt
the greedy garbage money reek.

I flirt. Damned right. You look at me."
But William watched her carefully
his mustache shaky she could see
him jealous "which is how he always be

at parties." Clementine and Wilhelmina
looked at trouble in the light blue lace
and held to George while Roosevelt Senior
circled by the yella high and bitterly light blue face

he liked because she worked
the crowded room like clay like molding men
from dust to muscle jerked
the arms and shoulders moving when

she moved. The Lord Almighty Seagrams bless
Doretha in her short blue dress
and Roosevelt waiting for his chance:
a true gut-funky blues to make her really dance.