To quote the main character in the movie The Golden Laws: “I guess… time is really God’s great river of love.” This is just something I connect on my own, it is not endorsed by Sakamoto, as far as I know.

Continuing to think back, I listen to a beautiful Japanese song I have found: “Remedy” by Maaya Sakamoto. (YouTube.) I guess you need to have grown at least a little bit accustomed to Japanese pop to appreciate the beauty of it to the fullest, for they have a less regular structure than western popular music. Lines that are shorter or longer, or occasionally transition from one to the other without a clear break. And they usually don’t have a chorus or refrain, although elements from one verse is often found in another.

Be that as it may, the music is beautiful to me and it evokes memories from my own life. It is almost shocking how I manage to find myself in the first lines. (The translation is a bit creative, but I think it conveys the feeling quite well, so I just quote it straight from the video.)

When I gazed out from over the top of the hill
I was moved to tears by the nostalgia.
The memories I wanted to forget were gleaming back at me.
They are beginning to change;
Even though it is still frightening, I am watching over them.
I will always, always carry into my future
the scars on my heart that cannot be erased,
so that someday
the day will come when I can directly face them…
Touch them and laugh.

My childhood home lies at the base of a mountain. Well, a field lies between the house and the foot of the actual mountain. A narrow path goes up to another, narrower ridge. Then a longer stretch of sheer cliff wall, which I did not traverse alone until puberty, I think. But it was when I was an adult for many years that I came back and climbed to the ridge above that. Behind it is a quiet, shallow valley, green and beautiful, with more mountain behind it.  And from the ridge, I could see my childhood home deep below, and to the left and right of me the village where I grew up, even to glimpse the waters of the sea. It was so beautiful, I wished I could stay there forever.

Like the steep mountains that were always around us, the memories of my childhood have cast shadows over my life, lasting for decades, as I could not see them from above. Not so much my home; it was, all things considered, one of the best I have seen or heard of. Despite the implacable hate I carried toward my oldest brother (and not entirely without reason, seen through human eyes), my home was still a refuge. School, on the other hand, was a nightmare, as were pretty much all social occasions of any kind. I went to Sunday School once, never again. OK, church service on Sunday was OK. I went with my grandmother, and she gave me chocolate when it was time to sing. I loved my grandmother for that and did not realize until after her passing that she had tried to keep me from singing with my terrible, terrible voice, disturbing the whole service. ^_^

But as I said, school was hellish. Well, purgatorial… no. Purgatory is supposed to be a place of hope. My only hope there and then was that somehow my tormentors would die, regardless of whether it was by my hand or not. In either case, I was convinced that not only I, but the world would profit greatly from their demise.

Years later, such a horrifying demise indeed took place for one of them, but I took no pleasure in it. The wounds of my heart had healed to scars, and I learned to live with them and move forward. They were still scars when I stood on that ridge, moved to tears by the beauty and sadness as I saw things from a somewhat greater height. But not high enough.

According to my brother and father, the last time I visited may have been ten years ago. Back then, I felt like a ghost, existing in a different time from everyone around me. Seeing the relationship between my nephews, I still could not emotionally separate it from the relationships of my own generation. I decided to stay away, to not haunt the place any more.

But in my heart I have stood on that ridge again and again, seen the valley of paradise and the shadows of hell.

Only now recently is it that light, bright white light, is shining out through the scars of my soul’s heart.  Only now can I touch them and smile. I know that every fear, every threat and kick and blow, was necessary to forge me into the unique person only I could become. If not for my enemies, I would likely have become socialized, become a mainstream human, and unhappy with it, for that was not my destiny. It would have taken something extraordinary for me to break out of those ruts, out of the chain gang, chained to all the other people. Those blows broke the chains while they were still as weak as wet clay, and I grew up to become free.

Thank you, everyone I feared and hated. You may know who you are, those of you who are still alive. I pray that the Eternal Light will pay you back many times for the help you have been to me, that you may enjoy happiness and brightness in this life and, if you so desire, the next. You really knew not what you did, and probably still don’t. Besides, I was an obnoxious brat, so don’t worry.

When I tried shouting loudly,
I felt the weight slightly lift from my shoulders,
like I had been completely soaked through with pure water.

Isn’t it about time to stop regretting
those things that cannot be redone?
Time will always, always continue,
surrounding and washing away everything.
With tranquility, softly, softly, with these hands
let go of the receding past.