The Gregorian calendar ticked over from 2014 to 2015. One number now has become a new number. Most see it as a chance to renew and hope for something better. We dissect bits time into pieces that are manageable. Seven days into a week. Thirty days become a month. Twelve months are a year. We humans like the idea of a year. We toss out the old, with the hope of filling the new with something better.
my 2014, like many others, was full of highs and lows. Sometimes the lows are overwhelming and appear as if they will never end. For us, and myself in particular, I need to focus in on the highs, even if they are just a small one.
Some of the highest heights of 2014 in no particular order. I will let them flow out in a stream of consciousness.
•traveling the Caribbean with my extended family.
•meeting up with the photographic soul brother Giovanni in NYC. Taking large format images, and developing them in coffee.
•working with my wife in our patio garden.
•rescuing a kitty off a rooftop next to our home. (she became known as Roofy).
•cycling from my home to Skytree and back again.
•witnessing Nisan graduate from the Asian Rural Institute before she headed back to Myanmar.
•cooking most shabbats for my family.
•getting over a million views on Flickr.
•wife getting over the flu, and me over a sinus infection and still making it to the hot spring in Nasu, Tochigi, Japan
•guiding my brother Jerry on his first visit to Japan.
There are more. There are many lows too, but I honestly try not to dwell on them. Life’s sweet moments wouldn’t have that same flavor if we didn’t have those pains that slice into our soul.
On a January 2nd we headed into Tokyo for the annual hatsumode, going to a shrine or a temple for the first time in the new year. Japan celebrated the lunar New Year before modernizing in the Meiji Era. After midnight on the 31st we usually cycled over to our local shrine and sipped some hot nihonshu (sake) or amazake after a moment of asking for a safe New Year. Out of nowhere this year my wife decided to go to one of the larger shrines that she had never visited before, Hachiman Jinjyu in Yoyoogi, Tokyo.
All buses and trains are running on a holiday schedule as people make trips to visit relatives or shrines. A short distance front he station and up a flight of stone steps the line began. Shrine volunteers helped keep the line orderly as people kept on arriving.
Being the observer I just tried to take it all in. The sights, sounds and scents of the new year. People drop off their old amulets to be burned by the shrine and purchase new ones. Coins are tossed into worn wooden boxes, as hands clap and bells rattled.
All and all a good day out on a short winter day.
We are never as alone as we may feel. We are never as low as we might fall. I wish all good health and wishes for the coming year. Let it be one that we regain our personal then our communal humanity.