Delving into the Intangibles


   People who departed this world for another  
     
 

At the beginning of the New Year, it might seem a little inappropriate to discuss the dead. Which is why I chose the romantic title of this piece: an expression of thanks to those who continue sending us tremendous “intangible” energy, without interruption, from another world.

This spring I will turn seventy-five. I will join what is called the “latter-stage elderly healthcare scheme,” a category designated by the government, which was also generous enough to offer me a free tour ticket for Heaven. Not bad, isn’t it? So I’m preparing for the trip and wondering what I should pack in my suitcase. At my age I can hardly think of anything much, really.

One thing you notice when you grow older is you become less averse to the word "death," which I used to hate so much. The stage I’m now entering is mental training for acceptance of the reality I must face in the not-too-distant future. Nevertheless, I hope to bring to the training not so much pessimism but a smidgen of “elderly optimism.”

Ever since I was a little girl, I have believed that people who are no longer in this world are a source of as much energy as those who are still living; and, furthermore, they are sure to lead us in the right direction. I still think so. Imagine you are listening to music composed or performed by artists who passed away long ago. The same applies to reading, or appreciating the fine arts, et cetera.

Just imagine how much “intangible” energy you can receive from them. In order to tap in to such a resource, I especially like to read autobiographies written by politicians, musicians, writers, or painters who have achieved something unparalleled in their respective fields. I cannot tell you how much encouragement their way of life and their precious words give me. I admire them because they “made it,” overcoming difficulties and all the absurdities of this world, before departing for another. I sometimes have the strange illusion that I am going on a journey with them.

And I am forever grateful to them, because the departed never hurt us, shout us down, or follow and harass us. They offer courage and advice well matched to us, as much as we need, in the form of beautiful dreams, images, and sounds that resonate in the heart, or through their precious example and practical tips on living, and so forth.

Regardless of how much benefit you obtain, you’ll never be required to pay for their advice and services. No invoices are issued. In contrast, when dealing with living people, you have to pay them fees for lectures or performances, for example. In this world, where money talks, very little can be obtained without “tangible” payments or transactions.

How generous and broadminded are the departed! I’m always impressed with their unselfish hearts. They give us advice free of charge. Money is worthless to them because they no longer exist in this material world, enslaved to it.

Whenever I feel incapable of reaching a decision, I talk to the departed, asking, “What would you do in such a case?” as if they were still alive, hoping to receive some of their abundant “intangible” energy. I trust them, those ones who were much older and more experienced than I, as if they were living friends, because I have found they are capable of making cool and accurate judgments without fail.

They might be your father or mother, or your husband, or a friend, or townsfolk you once knew before they passed away: they can become a priceless reference.

During the New Year holidays, I drew a family tree of my late husband’s clan in Europe. A considerable part of the tree extends vertically deep into the past, while many living people hang further down on branches extending sideways. It was fun to do and full of interesting discoveries for me.

Going through my parents’ fifty photo albums, I selected only the most precious and memorable photos and put them into three volumes for easy storage. I peeled off the photos, brushed away the dust with a tissue, and removed the stains of dead insects on the pasteboard.

I felt as if I were slipping back in time. On the back of a small picture of my father, taken during his army days, I found a haiku that he wrote longing for the hometown he had left behind. Tears moistened my eyes. 

It is a good idea, is it not, to remember people from the past, quietly, at the beginning of the year? 

So concludes this New Years’ report on my way of showing gratitude as much as I can.

 
                                                        K.Yamakawa