Yesterday, I went to our friend Arup's yoga class, for the first time since before Christmas. I needed to be there, and during the meditation part at the end, this is what I saw: cherry blossoms. And images of Nao, a stylist who I became friends with when I first came to fashion week - and who happens to be working with Roz, today: a photo shoot, I believe, for a Japanese magazine. That is what I thought about, the people of Japan, and how a country that I've still never been to has been such a beautiful part of my life.
My father went there, after the war, as an American GI, a medic. I knew that his love of Japan and the Japanese people stayed with him all his life. He came of age there.
I came of age, in a sense, when my boyfriend during my college years introduced me to a very beautiful form of Japanese karate called Shorei Kan, which we studied when I first came to New York (the dojo was on the top of a small building on Fifth Avenue). His brother, in fact, wrote the Karate Kid, based on him and on these philosophies.
That same boyfriend used to tell me about the Japanese concept of 'favour': when you do someone a favour, you are meant to forget you've done it. But when someone does you a favour, you never forget. I remember thinking: a culture based on that philosophy.. how beautiful.
When the cherry trees are in blossom, I have always, always felt a poignant sadness, ever since childhood, that I didn't understand. But to have that image of cherry trees yesterday morning, and then we were driving around town and I realised they were in bloom.. all I wanted was to photograph them. Just as I said that, we passed one tree, in Hyde Park. My husband stopped the car and I got out.
It was only a few moments, but I took all the photos here, and more. I just snapped for a few minutes, and it was the most extraordinary experience: I felt enveloped by the love of this tree. All the cherry blossoms.. each one unique, beautiful, unseen by any other human being, up this close. Each would not live forever, but just for that moment, each was so gloriously alive.
And I started to wonder: how many blossoms on this one tree? 1000? 10,000? I felt like each blossom represented a soul lost in the earthquake, in the tsunami. And then today, when I was about to do this post, I saw two things: one was Rumi's beautiful post, the other a retweet by Osman about an event in New York, the place where I experienced Japan so intimately, at Carnegie Hall. In the Times piece, I read this quote:
“The show goes on,” Mr. Gillinson said. “One thing in music and all the performing arts, nobody ever feels they won’t find a solution. Everybody makes things happen.”
If you go to the Photodiarist's beautiful blog, and search around the archives for her trip to Japan.. I can remember her posting beautiful images of the cherry blossoms there. And ironically, when I looked it up on wikipedia: Washington, DC, has their own cherry blossom festival, in two week's time: 27th March.
What if, today, each of us were to think of one thing we wanted: one item of clothing, or a new pair of shoes, something we were planning to buy for ourselves, then imagined it swept away in a tsunami. And instead, what if we gave that money, anonymously, to the Red Cross. It won't bring back the souls that are gone, but at least we can feel that there is a solution. That individually, together, in small and in large ways, we can make things happen.