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Thoughts Going into the New Year.

December 27, 2010 at 10:04 AM


it`s come round again. The point in time when I become my most introspective and ponder on the meanings and possibilities of the last year and how they affect the New Year.

I have to confess that I have a great deal of difficulty observing the suffering of others, often becoming depressed as a result so it was probably not such a smart move to sit through the TV drama `One litre of tears,` during the coldest part of my year. The drama is a fairly accurate reconstruction of the life of Aya Ikeuchi who was diagnosed with spinocerebellar degeneration at the age of fifteen. This is a nightmare disease similar to Gerhigs Disease in which the body systematically loses it`s motor functions as one gradually loses the ability to walk, situate objects one can see in relation to the body, talk and so on until the victim often chokes to death. Watching the series and reading the book made me feel like I was carrying a heavy burden around for some time before I realized what others had much more quickly than me probably time and time again. Ultimately the message is about redemption and hope, which are not bad things to reflect on before a new year begins for the human race.

At the beginning Aya constantly returns to the same agonized question, `Why did this disease choose me?` and through her early years of suffering there seemed little in the way of an answer. In her writing she constantly comes back to the point that she can do nothing for herself. It is through her rage and frustration with this she finally experiences what I call an `aha moment,` and found her personal reason why she was put on this planet in such dreadful circumstances. As part of the treatment she was required to write a diary from the first inception of the disease and she religiously did this for ten years. In her final and most lonely years she finds that her initially somewhat casually published writing had become a beacon of light and hope for thousands of people suffering from the same disease. So much so, that on the anniversary of death hundreds of people still turn up at her grave and place flowers on it.

The other thing from the drama that left an indelible impression on me, and that writing does suggest it did actually occur more or less as portrayed, is a very disturbing discussion that occurs in Aya`s homeroom which she overheard by accident. In the early stages of the disease the parents of the students at Aya`s elite school were up in arms about having a `handicapped` person in the class. The effect had been to cause lessons to be slightly delayed on occasion as Aya was being carried between classes. Also in the high pressure `take no prisoners` study environment, Aya`s inability to take notes from the blackboard rapidly had slowed down the pace of the classes. It was claimed that students grades were dropping as a result. The students were complaining to the homeroom teacher about this although the bitching was driven at a deeper level by jealousy of the fact that the most eligible male student had clearly chosen Aya as his life love. Unable to stand the pseudo sympathetic `we love her but don`t want her` hypocrisy any longer this taciturn youth stands up and in remarkably offensive Japanese tears them all apart. The interesting thing is he chooses to highlight their lack of integrity in word and deed. IE Don`t pretend to be or feel something that your not. Had Aya been dealt with honestly from the beginning the problems could have been resolved. The boy even calls the homeroom teacher `omae` rather than `sensei` in his blunt statement of truth about his and the students hypocrisy. The whole scene intrigued me because under normal classroom conditions one could neither deliver such a castigating critique of ones peers or seriously insult a Japanese teacher in such a way. The reason he could to it to such effect was because he was telling the absolute truth and that transcended  both the cultural and self centered norms that had dominated the behaviour of the school and the students.

So, I`m going into the New Year thinking two things from this. First of all we should constantly strive to find the reason why we were actually put on the earth. We do all have one, but more often than not we are content to let things ride and not actively seek this `aha moment.` Without it life is only half lived. Secondly, I am determined to deal with myself and other with the greatest integrity and honesty I can manage even if that means paying a high price.

Where will this take me I have no idea but it seems I too have learnt something from Aya.

Happy New Year.



From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on December 27, 2010 at 5:54 PM

Buri, I'm glad you wrote this blog and I enjoyed it (if that's what you can call reading and internalizing a plainly unjoyful blog) but I don't agree that people can actively seek the meaning of why they are here.  It took me over 50 years to finally discover who I am.  Much of that came about by having children and being led to new experiences through them.  As a relevant example: Although I have thoroughly enjoyed violin playing for decades and have studied music even longer, it wasn't until my uncle gave me a relatively small sum of money and a music store went out of business that I thought about buying and learning a violin myself--one that I could easily have bought myself years ago if I had thought about it!

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 27, 2010 at 7:16 PM


Francesca, thanks for your comment.  You definitely -can- actively seek out your reason for being here but I didn`t talk about it in the blog;)   It`s much, much simpler than going through a frustrating process of trying this and that or finding no satisfaction in work and changing job and so on.  That process doesn`t address the fundamental issue that we all need to embrace if this planet (species actually) is going to survive:   the fundamental reason we are here is simply to love one another and behave accordingly.

If we were to become able to do this then our  more specific life purpose will reveal itself automatically though the opening of our intuition and sense of what is right.  Without this ultimate understanding of this underlying  purpose then the kind of searching for our `reason to be` that I mention in the blog is largely fruitless for most people because it is based on dissatisfaction and unhappiness.



From Steve Trei
Posted on December 27, 2010 at 7:55 PM


Your fundamental reason for us all being here is consistently manifested in your contributions to this site!  Thank you very much!

From Francesca Rizzardi
Posted on December 27, 2010 at 9:05 PM

Buri, Thanks for the clarification.  I hope other members also appreciate it.  There are lots of books out on "how to find your purpose in life" and I automatically shy away from such titles, but I think most sensible people can get behind "if you're unhappy, find out what makes you happy".


From Lisa Van Sickle
Posted on December 27, 2010 at 9:34 PM

. . . the fundamental reason we are here is simply to love one another and behave accordingly.

Whether or not there is a grand single meaning to life, acting like this certainly brings meaning to our lives.  How we treat the least among us, as the young man in this movie made so clear, is the true measure of who and what we are.  Living in an age of rampant materialism, when money amassed is seen as the measure of worth, any discussion of true value and meaning is so welcome.  Thank you.

From Yixi Zhang
Posted on December 29, 2010 at 5:36 AM

Buri, thank you! 

The reason for my being here to live in love, do good work, and wear handknit socks.

From Stephen Brivati
Posted on December 29, 2010 at 9:16 PM


that`s fine as long as they have separate toes.

Happy new Year,


From Anne-Marie Proulx
Posted on December 29, 2010 at 10:32 PM


Well, people could tell amateurs like me are there so that the pros look talented by comparison... but I hope I am there for something a litlle more amazing than showing the lower extent of an art! 

Perhaps I can show the courage of still playing when one would have 50 000 excuses to quit (school, Reynaud's, social non popularity of classical music, not getting ennough sleep, non musical family, late starter etc)

Just the fact of keeping a musical hobby is already a challenging task in 2010 soon 2011...  It would be so much more easier to welcome laziness than to try to improve with a diabolic instrument haha 

Thanks for this reflection Buri! 


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