Friday, July 24, 2015

I haven't got TV service.  At all.  Not even the local channels.  This is not a matter of choice but by reason of living with circumstance.

Still, every cloud has a silver lining:  I'm thankful for the lack of TV because this means that I've taken to streaming shows online that I'd never have found otherwise.  Japanese dramas are especially enjoyable because they offer stories about relationships, responsibility, and respect in a way that resonates deeply.

Recently I had the opportunity to watch Haru to Natsu.  It's based on the true story of two devoted sisters, Haru (Spring) and Natsu (Summer), who are separated as children when their impoverished family moves to Brazil in the 1920's as immigrant workers.  Natsu is left behind in Japan when an eye disease renders her ineligible to travel.  Haru and Natsu write many letters to one another.  Neither of them ever receives a reply, and each thinks the other must have given up on her.  It is 70 years before the sisters meet again.  Their long-lost letters are miraculously found, and the sisters begin to rebuild their relationship.  

It's a very good story but it was the subplot regarding their father that I found interesting.

It is Father who decides that the rest of the family must go on to Brazil without Natsu.  He believes that they will all starve if they do not go, so he asks Natsu to bear the burden of being alone.  Things do not go well for the family in Brazil, and it seems that every decision that Father makes ends in despair.  No matter how hard everyone works, they are weighted down with debt.  When the family runs away from the plantation, Father leaves his brother to take on the debt.  The family must start over again and again.  The eldest son dies from illness and overwork.  The second son leaves the family to seek work that will allow him to return to Japan,  and he later dies in combat in WW2.  Finally, only Haru remains to care for her parents.  

Father becomes increasingly irrational and intolerant.  Ultimately, he cannot accept that Japan has lost the war.  Somehow he equates this with the failures of his own life.  If he acknowledges the fact of Japan's loss, he knows that he will have to accept the blame for the ruin he has made of the lives of all of his children, for the fact that he has left others to shoulder responsiblities he should have taken care of.  So he stubbornly demands that others accept the falsehood, and he chooses to ignore reality until the day he dies.

We are all a little bit like this, too, aren't we?  

Sometimes we reach the point where it is easier to accept a convenient lie than it is to face the uncomfortable truth.  When things become too painful, we want to hide from reality.  The problem is not in the hiding, it is in the decision to remain there indefinitely.  When we stop, we stagnate.  As long as we are alive, we have the chance to change and adapt.  It just takes one step to move forward in courage to begin the process.  But change does not come by one step only but by a succession of single steps one after the other.   

The road stretches ahead of us.  Look forward.  Let's keep walking.

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