Time Away In Hiroshima

I NEEDED time away, a change from my home which started to look different. Osaka didn’t change but the feelings it evoked did: a melancholy where there was joy before. I want to see this world anew, not as the remnants of what once was, but what it will be.

I often wonder how long my life will be like this, the wandering, my existence feeling somewhat temporary. I’ve chosen this life for I long to know our world; with that longing, I often feel lost.

Maybe that’s okay.

I write these words to find my footing. To know myself.

What is it that hurts? I ask.

The infinite possibilities which our minds conjure up, what we should have done or what we ought to do, are nothing but ephemeral notions. And they’re what cause us worry.

Even though the moment seems to hurt, it’s all we have.

What’s real in this moment? 

My heart has changed; the thoughts that run through my mind make me feel a certain way. That doesn’t mean it’s not a sunny, beautiful day; the thoughts aren’t real.

What’s real is the warmth, something like love.

Things are the way they are and they’ll be the way they’ll be, unfolding second by second. Our job, our duty — our opportunity — is to take each step in the spirit of discovery.

Explore the moment, our thoughts, the waves of emotion which ebb and flow.

I write to make some sense even though I know I can’t; it just takes time, for nothing really makes absolute sense.

I’m so unbelievably grateful for that, for this.

As I wrote this standing on the metro gliding beneath the streets of Osaka, I realized that I’m not just wandering, but exploring — the world and myself.

Within us — beneath the fear, the desire and the expectations — there’s a core, a place of total peace from which to set out and discover.

One day I’ll understand my path, the choices I’ve made and those that’ll come. The memories, with time, won’t hurt so badly anymore, because the times they represent are anything but bad. Yet their recollection hurts.

With time, wounds heal. That experience will fill my soul with love, as all things may with time.

I decided to go alone to Hiroshima, but I needed my friends and am lucky they joined. With friends, we will always make it through. We’d take the Shinkansen on the two-hour journey south.

I can’t tell you everything of what I saw because I didn’t go necessarily to see; I needed to go somewhere, anywhere, to allow myself to feel.

We picked up bento boxes from Shin Osaka Station with about ten minutes before the bullet train departed.

Taking the Shinkansen almost feels like you’re leaving on a plane when you’re boarding and finding your seat and settling in; it’s comfortable and spacious but there are no formalities. No warning.

The train leaves when it says it will leave, and you’re either on it or you’re off. When it leaves it always feels like you’re missing something. It can’t be that simple, but it is, and just like that the adventure begins.

We quickly reached the coast and soared past lush mountains and expanding yellow fields and towns. The melancholy began to lift. A woman with a coffee cart rolled past. We ate our sushi and talked and were there before we knew it.

Itsukushima Shinto Shrine
Itsukushima Shinto Shrine

Upon arriving in Hiroshima, we took the ferry from the river to the Inland Sea. The craggy coastline rose and fell and the splashing blue waves of open water washed upon the windows. We reached Miyajima Island in about forty minutes.

At high tide, a massive red torii gate rises from the sea, the most iconic feature of the Itsukushima Shinto Shrine. The torii’s red wooden beams stem from the seafloor like great, towering, mollusk covered trees.

We visited at low tide and could walk across the exposed seabed well past the gate. The squishy sand smelled of the subtle brininess of California. I miss that smell. It’s nostalgic.

I felt at ease, healed by the warmth of the high spring sun.

The sky seemed wonderfully blue.

The torii gate, its orange red color prominent amongst the sea, contrasts against the light sky and the vivid, deep green hills. The color red is vital to both Buddhism and Shintoism, Japan’s major religions.

The red that’s interwoven through the fabric of Japanese culture juxtaposes against the natural tones of the sky and the earth and creates a mood: of intrigue and love and mystification when the sun dips beyond the horizon and the white moon shines and the color red reflects on the surface of the water, a lake or a pond or the sea, and perhaps the color evokes a memory, as colors mean more than just the way things look — they arouse feelings.

When I see the red torii gate or the autumn leaves or the setting sun, I wonder what it all might mean; my mind runs. I think of those things I love and that which hurts, and maybe those notions aren’t real but still, their energy courses through my blood; I’m laying here, thinking, and that’s better than feeling nothing at all because even though it hurts, I feel, and that tells me I’m alive. I write these words because of that, trying to make sense of these thoughts and decisions, laying in my hostel bed in Hiroshima early in the morning, tired but writing to extract this idea, this emotion, this color from my soul which won’t let me sleep.

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