It is 6:01 AM on Thursday, April 6th, 2017. I’ve been awake since 3:30 AM; I stayed in bed until almost five trying to go back to sleep but then decided to get up and start the day.
Today will be a busy one: I’ve got a travel fair in San Francisco in the middle of the day and then need to be at karate at the end of the day to practice for the Cherry Blossom Festival. Unfortunately, the forecast calls for rain this year but only in the morning. Our presentation isn’t until the afternoon so hopefully the rain will be done by then.
The Cherry Blossom Festival is a special occasion for me for a couple of reasons. The first is that it reminds me of my life in Japan and my experiences at that time. Life was completely different then and I am lucky to have experienced such a different world. Most people go through life only living in one culture, one world and creating a very static world view. I am very grateful to know that other ‘worlds’ and completely different mindsets exist and being able to move between them due to my previous experiences. Perhaps I’ll be able to explain my point better some day but in short, going to these cultural events reminds me that a completely different life and way of living exists. In knowing this and being able to move between cultures I have an enormous amount of freedom that most people do not.
The other reason the Cherry Blossom Festival is special to me is that it reminds me of my first years in San Francisco moving from Vietnam. I worked at Japan Airlines and JAL used to be the main sponsor of it. So, I’d actually have to ‘work’ the Festival and drop off / pick up items needed for the float. I remember it being a very festive time especially for the older Japanese men in the office. They’d get together with their buddies, drink lots of sake and really enjoy the festival. I remember thinking how great of an experience it must have been to have lived through the Japanese boom years of the ’80s and early ’90s, living in a place as great as San Francisco, and having a huge Japanese community all around. These guys worked for one of the best companies, dealt with the best companies, made very good money, and had their own little slice of Japan right inside San Francisco. Then comes the main Japanese festival of the year, a time to celebrate, smile, drink a lot, meet many friends and enjoy your very own not-so-small cultural community!
My how things have changed! The Japanese economy has been comatose for decades, the airlines no longer have any money and a new crop of Japanese have come in to replace the old guard. I heard so much about the politics of Japan town and how the ‘old guard’ really didn’t want to listen to the new comers. Now the ‘old guard’ is passing away but the younger Japanese really don’t have much interest in Japan town and partly as a result is now being bought up by Koreans. And so, our dear Cherry Blossom Festival seems to me a shade of what it used to be (my image of it during the ’80s) during the good times. Yes, it is still festive and a lot of fun but most of the Japanese I know don’t even bother going!
In any case, I’ll be there and plan on having a very good time. It is also my first time actually participating which I’m sure will be a good experience so long as the rain holds off.
The main problems now are Syria and N. Korea. I saw a very heart wrenching picture of a father who had just lost his entire family to a chemical attack by Assad. He was holding his dead babies right before burying them and the image hit me very hard and I haven’t been able to stop thinking about it. It makes me so very sad and angry; I’m angry at humanity and how we really are a bunch of primitive monkeys making a mess of everything around us. Human beings are greedy, they want more money, more power and at the highest levels will kill as many as needed to get it. It is hard to see any good in the world these days and makes me want to close up and shut it out. Our very own President wants to poison the environment, direct even more wealth to those who have no need of it and use his power to enrich his own family.
There has been a sliver of hope in that the news says he is finally listening to experienced experts and his position on places like Syria has evolved to the correct one after this gas attack. It is time to put the big boy pants on and let those who know what they are doing fucking do it!
But this is only a small glimmer of hope and I expect things to get much worse throughout this presidency. There is so much bad in the world and nothing to rely on. Many rely on religion which in my opinion is built upon fairy tale and fantasy. World events have lead to a generally gloomy mood and the way things are going I wonder how long we have until a nuclear war.
And so, now in April, 2017 the only thing I can do is shut out the news, shut out the images of the dead and grieving which is caused by human greed, both the actual killing then spreading the images for profit. Shut out the news and all the bad that goes on around me. It is all I can do! Taking a look at the BBC just now I see that Aung San Suu Kyi refuses to admit that her country and her leadership are responsible for massacring the Rohingya. More killing, more greed, more human beings making a mess of things.
The bad is getting closer too: houses are getting burglarized around me, with about 15 getting hit in just the past month and it doesn’t seem like the cops can stop it. Reading Nextdoor the neighborhood kids are on drugs and when school administrators try to take action the parents get upset. Yes, the tattooed, spelling-challenged, troublesome parents don’t like it when a school tries to assert some authority. Hell, half of these parents probably do some of the drugs themselves.
So yes, it seems as though things are getting quite a bit worse and my only defense is to not worry about that which I cannot control, shut out the bad and focus on the positive.
The time is now 6:44 AM and it is time to start the day.