If the past were to switch sides with the present, it would be likened to seeing things from outside a roof or a ceiling. It is a matter of perspective, I believe, and sometimes Time is all that is needed for Understanding to be a friend.
We were talking about “The Garden of Words” (Kotonoha No Niwa) by Japanese writer and film maker Makoto Shinkai in one of my Literature classes. The 45-minute animation tells the story of a high school student named Takao Akizuki who is passionate about making shoes. He then, oddly so, finds friendship with Literature teacher in her late 20’s named Yukari Yukino who is unable to taste anything she eats because of severe depression. The first time they met was in the Shinjuku Gyoen National Garden one rainy morning. Since that day, they would both always find their way to that same spot every time the rain decided to fall. And each time they do meet, they become better versions of themselves.
If one would really dwell further into the plot, there are quite a number of metaphorical elements that makes the text rich for study. But, that is something I do not intend to do here.
That classroom discussion led to a follow up lecture on the “Art of Poetry in Storytelling.” The subject matter expert invited that day mentioned concepts like the “Inner and Outer Turning Points.” These so-called “turning points” had something to do with how the circumstances of the characters cause them to either realize something about themselves that changes their behavior and personality, or causes them to make a pivotal decision that could either reflect maturity or cowardice.
I don’t know, but those perspectives made me realize certain things — things that had to do with how a person’s past makes the present more meaningful, more appreciated. I saw clearly how Understanding played his role really well, making me realize that in actually “seeing” what the past was doing, we, in turn, can actually become our better selves just like Takao and Yokino.
As I am writing this, I remembered that all this talk about “seeing” and thoughts of “realizing” began with the beautiful words in the Japanese Tanka that is interwoven within the characters’ story.
A faint clap of thunder,
Perhaps rain will come.
If so, will you stay here with me?
A faint clap of thunder,
Even if rain comes or not,
I will stay here,
Together with you.
— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —
Because of these very words, I wrote some of mine.
“I Am Aware: An Ode to the Past”
I am aware that not all things end up as planned. I am aware that sometimes things that were real and worth “fighting for” gets wallowed up by common sense and by living life itself.
I am aware that I needed that past — that it was destined to bring out the sensitive side of who I am, that being vulnerable teaches much about the self.
I am aware that the past is never a shallow sentiment.
Anyone’s past actually had something there, something felt, something feared, something hoped for.
And I am aware that the memory of a past is a reverie, an essential one at that.
Because we need a reverie or two, every now and then, to get in touch with who we once were, who we are, or who we can still become.