My posts are always writing or story-telling related, even if the relation is sometimes as slim as a politician's promises. The disaster in Japan has been very much on my mind, and all my little writing ups and downs and discoveries seem like minor silly things right now.
I'm sure everyone has seen the sob-inducing scenes of tsunami destruction. But it's so easy to forget about other people's problems, especially if you don't have any personal connection there. I don't know anyone from Japan or even anybody that's been to visit there! My sum total knowledge of Japan is from WWII war films my dad loves and from Memoirs of a Geisha.
To educate myself and my little girls a little more about Japan, we've been looking at maps and pictures and I've been reading them some Japanese folktales. Which is where the bear-wrestling comes in (and the link to writing/storytelling).
Kintaro is the folktale of a little boy with super-human power. His mother was forced to flee to the mountains when he was a baby. He grew up with animals as his friends and he would sumo-wrestle with bears (doesn't that conjure up quite the image!!)
Instead of riding a horse, Kintaro used a bear as his mount. His great strength was witnessed by a samurai, who asked the wild boy to join him. He was reluctant to leave his mother all alone (ah, the tender-hearted hero) but with her encouragement he went on to become a great samauri and win renown by defeating a terrible ogre (a Japanese "oni" - just discovered me a new mythical creature - cool!)
Just to balance all the depressing images we've been seeing on the news from Japan, I'm including a couple beautiful pictures. I'm a geographer, so I'm always fascinated by unique land forms and natural wonders. This is a picture of Amanohashidate, a natural land bridge on the western shore of Honshu, the largest island of Japan (did you know Japan has over 3000 islands? though only 426 are inhabited).
Japan is also famous for its gardens. This a picture of Kenroku-en at fall, click the link to see many more beautiful photos. Both the land bridge and the garden were unaffected by the earthquake.
I hope this story and these pictures keep you thinking of Japan and sending hope and prayers to the hundreds of thousands affected by the earthquake.
Other more encouraging news: did you hear Carolina Valdez Miller got an agent! YAYYYYYY! She and some friends are hosting a hugi-humungi-awesomi collection of giveaways. And I hope you've heard of Tahereh Mafi's excellent book deal news, too. If you haven't discovered their blogs yet, I predict your week will be considerably brightened now that you have.
My writing life had a little brightening/inspiring moment this weekend, too, when my daughter brought home her school art on Friday and showed me her drawing of a heart garden.
What image do those two words generate in your imagination? My little brain just went OOO-AHHH at that image. Take two unrelated things - hearts and gardens - and put them together and all sorts of new ideas bloom out of that union.
Have you had any unexpected ideas or inspirations lately, or something beautiful that came out of a disaster?