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.


6 thoughts on “Remedies

  1. How sad.

    Praying for those who tormented you and brought your heart to hate is a good thing, because I do believe you truly feel it. (I didn’t understand that when I read the instructions in the bible when I was a child and prayed for them hoping quite literally to see coals heaped upon their heads. What a lack of understanding!)

    The scars do make us who we are. I like how you and the song word this concept. I tend to poke and pick at mine with that very thought in mind: toughen them up so that they can be touched without bleeding anew.

    Don’t totally knock socialization, though. You would have been different, perhaps, but it would have been to society’s benefit to know you better! The little turds who treated you badly probably STILL have growing up to do, despite their adulthood. Cruelty to others seems, sadly, to be some kind of instinct among humans, particularly those who have precious little else to offer society. There are many reasons, and you know the excuses, but if you are happy now, then they failed and, in forgiving them, you’ve succeeded.

    Doesn’t mean that your friends have to like the idea of them, though.

    Your description of visiting your place near your childhood home brought tears to my eyes. I feel that way when I go back to my grandparents’ farm, although the house is falling to ruin now. I still like to go there, and I hate leaving. Deciding never to go back . . . wow, that would take a huge happy thing from my life. I might never get back there, I could be hit by a bus tomorrow, but willingly marking it off the list of things I might do in the future . . . Nah. It’s not painful in the same way that yours is, and it’s certainly not as beautiful in the agreed-upon sense of “beauty”, but it’s mine, and it makes my heart happy and sad in a really beautiful way. And if my grandparents were actually there, and I had the opportunity to see them just one more time at the old place . . . wild horses couldn’t keep me away.

    Now, off to sleep, hopefully to dream about my grandparents and the farm again. I do it often, and usually we’re living in it while we repair and refurbish it. Frequently my grandmother is there, sometimes alive and sometimes just as a sort of ghost. Once I saw her and her mother in what would have been my grandparents’ bedroom but was a kitchen in my dream. My grandmother was a little girl helping her mother with her baking. It was a weird, great dream!

  2. It is not some kind of greatness on my part, to forgive. It is exactly as I said: I was a provocative and insufferable brat, probably because my destiny already existed inside me even if I did not know it. Like a seed growing in the earth, it drew to itself what it needed to become the lifeform it was meant to be. In my case, I drew to myself this harshness so that I could become myself. I have a wonderful life now, although I am sure people who measure life in money and fame and the number of Facebook friends would disagree. But I am pretty much at my limit of pleasure now. The pain of my youth was a small price to pay for this.

  3. God creates good things even out of badness, so the bad things your contemporaries did to you did, indeed, work out for the best. I started to say “I beg to differ” about the brattiness, but I took that out because you’d know better than I the level of brattiness you obtained. I can say, however, that I have been exposed to many, many children of all shapes and forms, and that I doubt that your “brattiness” was much more than trying to deal with others at a level they were not prepared for. Had quite a bit of that myself. It isn’t easy to be a “normal” kid if you are accustomed to being taken seriously by adults and participating in mature conversations, etc. I remember being shocked at the ripe old age of four when I started kindergarten (the last year that there was no public kindergarten, so my poor parents scratched around and paid private tuition) and saw how little the other kids knew. They were quite boring, and the things that interested them simply didn’t make sense to me. When I did pick up on the things they were doing, I promptly became good at whatever it was and beat them all soundly (and gracelessly, I see now). Being the only child in households full of adults also didn’t help. So, the brattiness was there, but it was actually a simple lack of experience in understanding how others’ minds (and social dealings) worked. I felt sorry for the other kids, though, and eventually figured out to act like I was as dim as they in class discussions. That helped, but that “don’t act too smart” trait might have been more of a girlish thing. I just can’t imagine that you were so much “bratty” as being the ugly duckling, destined for better things, plopped into the middle of a brood of ducks who were destined for no more than duckiness! Maybe I’m projecting, but I can see others not liking someone whose light shines so much brighter than theirs. The fact that your light shone so as a child wasn’t your fault, though! And innocence doesn’t know that there’s even any need to camouflage itself!

    • I was both, actually – bright and bratty. So they had double reason to dislike me. Actually they would probably have bullied me even without reason, since I was remarkably small and weak and sickly. But providence saved them from that injustice, since I actually provoked them. Thank goodness!

      There was another super smart family in the village, our second cousins (I think it is called in English), but they were all girls and had social antennae.

  4. This is where I become wishy-washy about how responsible the kids were for their actions. You may have provoked them, but they also had the opportunity for kindness to one who was different than they were. If they’d been adults, then yes, I would expect them to have had enough decency to treat you kindly even if you were a horrible brat. (It is difficult, but it can be done.) I have learned, though, that we often don’t expect enough empathy from our youngsters. The bullying epidemic that has come to light (but which, in my opinion, has existed forever) is a result of children not having been taught that others have feelings, and “There, but for the grace of God, go I!” is a mindset that they do not generally show. I do know from experience, though, that when taken aside and spoken to, if you love them and they know you practice what you preach, kids DO feel shame for their bullying actions, and will actually be remarkably kind and helpful to their peers. (Most of them . . . there are always a few bad eggs.) The bratty, snotty kids usually need kindness from their peers worse than the nice ones, and they frequently throw it back into their classmates’ faces, but if the children really UNDERSTAND in their hearts more than their minds . . . they will at the least leave them alone and just have nothing to do with them rather than actively be mean to them. They’re kids, and they have to be reminded a lot, but . . . no. I don’t excuse meanness and bullying. Unless we are just animals, of course.

    My second cousins are the children of my mother’s or father’s first cousins. Does that help? My first cousins, Seth and Stacy, have children. Since my father is Seth and Stacy’s mother’s brother, Seth and Stacy are my first cousins. Seth’s and Stacy’s children are my first-cousins-once-removed. Seth and Stacy are Jared and Jenna’s first-cousins-once-removed. But Jared and Jenna are Seth’s child’s (Logan) and Stacy’s children’s (Caleb, Bethany, Kyrsten, and Kaitlyn) second cousins. If you are on the same “rung of the ladder” generationally, you are a “nth cousin”. If not, you have to go back to your common ancestor, count down to the nearest common “rung” on the ladder (which tells you the nth cousinry), and the number of “removes” from that common rung tells you how many times removed you are. My cousin Stacy’s grandchildren will be my first cousins twice removed. My grandchildren and Stacy’s grandchildren will be third cousins. My grandchildren will be Stacy’s children’s second cousins once removed. And Stacy’s grandchildren will be Jared’s and Jenna’s second cousins once removed.

    I actually like doing that, strange as it may be. How do you reckon such things? I thought that this was a fairly world-wide practice.

    • I am pretty sure my grandfather and Jonas were brothers, so that means my mother and Arne were cousins (the Norwegian word literally means “sibling-children”). That means Arne’s smart and sexy daughters were my second cousins, but in Norwegian this is called “tremenning”, from the number 3 and an obsolete declension of “man’, so basically 3 generations from the same man. The man in question being my grandfather’s father, the legendary Dave. His father again seems to be the first in our family tree with twice the IQ of the surrounding population, and his other offspring gave rise to the geniuses on the other side of the fjord, who were my 4-mennings, which would then be third cousins in your way of counting.

      That’s how I remember it, at least. My oldest brother is really the expert on genealogy, but I suspect the actual genes may part from the church record at some point before this, because our remote relatives are just ordinary farmers, not sexy geniuses. I was entirely unprepared when I came to school and found the class full of idiots who could not even read, much less write grammatically correct sentences!

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