四 / 死 2015

Right now, it is seven in the morning on the next day. I forgot to adjust the timezone, so it would appear that I am posting from the future these days. That might have to change.

I realized it isn’t so much about the future and the past as it is about who is facing the sun and who is standing in shadow, facing the outside of our galaxy. Odd, that we think in terms of time in respects to our own globe, but not when we consider the stars as their light reaches us from millions of years ago.

Yesterday, I wandered in 新宿 [Shinjuku]。I mistakenly got in line for a temple where the people were making wishes for the new year. I stepped aside, thinking at first to leave. But when I turned the corner on my departure, found I was facing the adjacent gate.

I slipped in under the pretense of looking at wares out on display. I didn’t see a single one, my mind curiously trying to assimilate the situation and what — exactly — I thought I was doing there. This was not my temple, not my rituals, not my line of people.

I am constantly aware of being an outsider, gaijin. My blue eyes glow like crystals underneath my Japanese wool hood.

I wandered on, anyway, trying to understand and observe, instead of partake. People washed their hands together, hung paper strings together, lined up and waited together. There was no rudeness, no haste about them. But a slow steady motion forward toward the ultimate destination.

I passed by a pair of ghosts like myself. Two gaijin from where? I don’t know. Only that they, like I, are observers. Nothing more. We pass through the air like a breeze brushing the tails of our neighbors coats.

I come around and exit through the gate I initially passed. As I do, my fingers play nervously with my talisman of death. I am concretely aware of the new year. A new time. A new self that is ephemeral, not grounded in anything. I am painfully aware of my physical self, of my body, of its possibility to both survive and die.

I found myself warned about bad luck this morning. But with more experience, it seems to balance out. Can I outgrow my misfortune of boundless misunderstandings? Can I gain experiences that can, over time, equal better chances? Better luck?

Above my head, a raven sits and calls out the death of those who pass. I look up and we meet, eye to eye. Glittering black to glowing grey-blue. The spirit of death studies my face silently, then nods as I pass underneath.

I have been passed over for the year.

As I step out, relieved, I remember that today is the fourth.

The day of death.

And the spirit of death nodded me through the gate, wishing me passage back into the physical world.

It is going to be a good year.

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