Entry #16 – Chasing Time, and Birthdays

Hi everyone, Kohaku here. I hope you all had a great week.

I’m tired and writing quickly, so please excuse this short post and any English errors! I know I haven’t been putting out a lot of good quality stuff lately – or at least I’m not super proud of most of my recent posts – but I hope you’ll believe me when I say I have a lot of exciting plans for my future work! I just have to find the time to actually do that work, and it seems like time has run away from me lately.

At least it has run away to good things. A lot of the stuff I’m doing in my personal life right now is providing me with creative ideas, so hopefully once I have some time to sit down and work at it, I’ll produce some writings I can be proud of. Right now I’m just trying to make at least one high-quality post per week. I wrote Last Dawn a few days ago, have you all read it? It was for a dear friend’s birthday. He really means a lot to me and I’m glad the poem turned out well.

We’re one year older now… and this year is almost over. It’s rather crazy, but as they say, time flies. I’ll do my best to chase it and maybe one day in the future I’ll catch up. For now, I just want to make sure I’m doing the best I can. With everything.

This week, think about where you are in relation to time. Are you living in the present, fully content with where and who you are? Are you chasing after your future, your dreams and aspirations, things that might not come to be but are worth chasing anyway? Or are you living in the future? Sometimes, we need to take a deep breath and put on the brakes. If you’ve gotten ahead of yourself, think about that. I get ahead of myself a lot.

Anyhow, take care. Don’t forget to smile.

KT

Entry #15 – Halloween Incident and the Meaning of Holidays

Hi everyone, Kohaku here! I hope you all had a great week.

I don’t really celebrate Halloween, but I hope those who do had a safe and fun time. Personally, I don’t understand the meaning of this holiday where people dress up and scare each other and give kids candy. But, that’s just me. Did you all enjoy it? That’s the most important thing, right?

I wanted to talk about something that happened on Halloween. One of my close friends and her father were giving out candy to trick-or-treaters that night. Their family is kind of struggling financially, but they wanted to celebrate this holiday and participate in the neighborhood, so they went out of their way to buy some candy for this occasion. At some point during the night, a car of perhaps high-school-age kids drove by, and the kids got out and knocked on my friend’s door. They weren’t dressed up, but they were trick-or-treating. My friend’s dad generously invited them to each take a handful of candy. But as they were doing so, one of the kids snatched the entire bowl out of his hands, and the whole group fled back into their car and drove away.

I’m not entirely sure what I want to say about this, but most of all I just want to tell this story and get you all to think about it. Does this incident mean anything? Does it have any relation to the nature of this holiday, or the societies in which we live? Does it say anything about the world? Or is it just an isolated incident of a group of candy-craving kids who didn’t think about what they were doing? Feel free to let me know what you think.

Well, anyway. I guess I don’t believe in Halloween all that much.

What holidays do you all celebrate? Are there any specific to your society or culture that you want to share? Holidays mean different things to different people, and that’s completely okay. I want to hear what the holidays you celebrate mean to you.

This week, give holidays some thought. We could all benefit from doing a little more thinking – don’t you think?

Take care of yourselves,

KT

Entry #14 – Loneliness

Hi everyone, Kohaku here. I hope you all had a great week!

A couple of weeks ago, when talking about 「HIRAETH」, I briefly discussed the topic of homesickness. Today, on a slightly related topic, I want to talk about the feeling of loneliness.

It’s easy to feel lonely. As is said, we’re social animals, and when our social circles are taken away from us (or if they are nonexistent in the first place), we hurt. For some, it’s especially painful, and there are also some people who just feel lonesome very easily. As we go through life, it’s important to actively seek out and maintain a social network that is open-hearted, loving, and genuine so that we can avoid feelings of loneliness.

Often when I’m out with my friends or family, I’m suddenly struck with appreciation for this community that surrounds me. At the beach watching the sunset with loved ones by my side – are these not the moments that make life worth living? Of course, the problem is when some people are for whatever reason denied such moments. But others actively choose to avoid them. There is value there, too. In the end, I think it takes a special kind of strength to live life alone.

Homesickness, loneliness, sadness, and depression – all of these feelings are connected. And in the reverse, they are also connected to feelings of having a home, having community, being happy, and being content. These connections and complexities are what I’ve been exploring recently in my writing. I’ll be moving forward with these themes in mind.

This week, value the community that surrounds you. Call your friends and family, go out together, and have a good and meaningful time. If you don’t have a social group and you’re feeling lonesome, take some risks and try to create one. And if you know someone who has been denied a community, reach out to them yourself. You could save a life – really.

Take care,

KT

Entry #13 – 「C.U. Again」 Reflection, Art and Artists

Hey everyone! Kohaku here. I hope you all had a great week. How’s October coming along?

「C.U. Again」 was released this past Monday. How was it? Even though they were equally personal, I feel like the theme in this compilation was more obvious, or at least more tangible, than the theme in 「HIRAETH」. I didn’t really explain the personal aspects of 「HIRAETH」 all that much, but I decided I’d talk about 「C.U. Again」 for a little bit in this week’s journal entry.

Put simply, 「C.U. Again」 is about a person who is the main reason I’m still alive.

I haven’t discussed my journey with depression much on this blog, even though I’ve been open about it from the start. I consider depression as one of the major aspects of my life – it influences the things I do and how I see the world, and this bleeds into my artwork and writing. Anyway, it’s been a wild ride, and I’m not going to go into all of it, just enough to give some context to this compilation.

I was suicidal in middle school and had been going through a bad time since late elementary school, and this person in 「C.U. Again」 saved my life. Without him, I am fairly certain I would not be here today. I also probably wouldn’t be writing. He did a lot for me, and he is no longer here, and so the poems in 「C.U. Again」 are about him in a general sense.

I’m glad I wrote this compilation, even though it didn’t turn out as well as I would have liked. Looking forward, I don’t really have any big writing projects right now. I’m still (slowly) working on the serial pieces like Taiga and Chasing Life With You, but life is getting busier and busier, so I can’t be sure when I’ll finish them. In the meantime, as I said before, I’ll probably mainly be turning out tanka. I also have some visual and musical projects coming up – eventually.

Seriously, why does life get so busy? I wish we all had more time for art. I think the world would be better if there were more artists of all kinds. More art, less war, that’s my policy.

This week, make time for art. It can be anything. Start learning a musical instrument. Do some arts and crafts with your child. Go outside and take some photos of the sunset. Or sit down and write a poem. Really, anything… it will make the world (and your life) better!

Take care of yourselves,

KT

Entry #12 – Natural Disasters, 「HIRAETH」 Reflection, 「C.U. Again」 Releases Tomorrow

Hi everyone, it’s Kohaku. I hope you all had a good week!

Is everyone safe from the typhoon and earthquake in Japan? As well as the wildfires and power shutoffs in the western US? Hopefully we will all be able to recover soon. Remember to always take care of your loved ones as best you can – and don’t forget to show and tell how much you love them. Disasters like these can strike at any time.

We can really learn a lot from such events. Beyond just giving attention to and loving each other, natural disasters remind us to not grow too attached to material things. In essence, they preach minimalism. Our homes, our cars, all of our possessions, can get burned or swept away in an instant. And once we’re reduced to almost nothing, we realize that we didn’t need so many of the trappings of consumer-based society in the first place – we can survive and be content without all of that. Even without a house, or without a car, we can still find ways to live fulfilling lives. It’s certainly going to be much more difficult, especially in a society and culture based on materialism. But it’s doable, and it can be argued that life is actually much richer this way. In the end, we find that the only things that really matter are intangible and come from within – our contentment, and our relationships with the people whom we love.

The poetry compilation 「HIRAETH」 was released this past Monday. Has everyone read it yet? On the surface, 「HIRAETH」 has to do with feelings of homelessness. Natural disasters like wildfires or typhoons often leave many people without homes. Sometimes this is temporary, and other times it’s relatively permanent. But either way, displaced people are left grappling with abstract questions of what it means to have a home in the first place. What exactly is a home? What is homesickness? Why does homesickness hurt so much?

What if you feel homesick even though you already have a home?

Homesickness is about more than just a physical house, right? 「HIRAETH」 has to do with feelings like this. And it’s very, very personal and important to me. I hope everybody enjoyed the poems in it. Let me know what you thought.

My next poetry compilation, 「C.U. Again」, is going to be published tomorrow. The theme in this one is also very important to me. I’ll touch on it in my next journal entry. Until then, everyone please stay safe.

This week, think about what you can learn from the world around you. “Sometimes good things initially manifest as bad things, and sometimes bad things initially manifest as good things, and you can’t really tell which is which.” Isn’t that right? Natural disasters and other events that cause suffering and tragedy contain important life lessons for those who are willing to listen.

Take care of yourself~

KT

Entry #11 – Tanka, 「HIRAETH」and 「C.U. Again」Release Announcement

Hi everyone, it’s Kohaku. I hope you all had a fantastic week.

These past few days I’ve been trying out tanka. It’s an old Japanese style of poetry, consisting of five lines bearing the syllable pattern 5/7/5/7/7. The first three lines are basically a haiku. I haven’t published any haiku on this blog, but I can say that so far, I really prefer tanka. It feels more complete to me, I guess. At any rate, poetry this short doesn’t take too long to write, and I’ve been getting really busy lately. So I’ll probably be turning out more English-language tanka on the days I have no time to do anything else. 

On to some exciting news: I have two complete poetry compilations and their release dates to announce!

「HIRAETH」will be published tomorrow, Monday October 7th

and

「C.U. Again」will be published next week, Monday October 14th!

I don’t know if I’ve said it before, but my poetry compilations are kind of similar to musical concept albums – they’re collections of poems centered around a common theme. You could probably tell from 「DOUBLE-SIDED」, I think. These two new compilations are different from 「DOUBLE-SIDED」but somewhat similar to each other – both have ten poems, neither have a preface, and both are really personal and important to me. Please look forward to them and let me know what you think!

I’m so busy recently, but I’m glad I was able to finish these two compilations. I think I’m going to try to get some sunset pictures one of these days. The sky is so incredibly pretty where I live… even when I’m stressed and tired and have no time, I’m always looking up at the sky for a reason to smile. An old acquaintance of mine once said, “Life isn’t over ‘till you can’t appreciate a sunset anymore.” Isn’t that very true? I guess that’s how I live.

This week, don’t forget to appreciate the little things. Look up at the sky, breathe, and smile. Watch the clouds. Admire the sunrise and sunset. Life isn’t over yet.

Take care of yourself,

Kohaku

Entry #10 – Dinner Party

Hi everyone, Kohaku here. I hope you all had a great week!

For this Sunday’s entry I wanted to introduce a personal project of mine. It’s actually derived from a history project I had in eighth grade, but it was only recently that I realized the value of it and started doing it again. It’s called “Dinner Party.”

In this project, students had to write letters to 10 famous people whom they admired or respected. There was to be a mix of people living and dead, and a mix of people who lived locally and internationally. In the letters, the students would write about why they liked/admired the person, and then invite them to an actual dinner party we held at the school some months later (one of them actually came!). The project also included elements such as crafting a theme, setting, menu, and visual for a fictional version of that dinner party in which all 10 celebrities could attend.

Now, when I was in eighth grade, I didn’t really have any famous people I looked up to. I was never up-to-date on American culture, music, sports, or celebrities in general. There were a few people I admired and loved, but they weren’t famous. So I just kind of made it up. I wrote to people like Gustave Eiffel and Abraham Lincoln, who, while I certainly admire their contributions to human history, haven’t really had a significant impact on my personal life. Because of that, the project wasn’t very meaningful for me.

Fast forward to the present day, and there are definitely some famous figures I admire. As the years have gone by, my understanding of myself and my values has grown, and I’ve learned about famous people who reflect those same values and can inspire me in my day-to-day life. I’ve also realized that it’s important to keep track of how your values change over time. One way I now do that is through keeping a dinner party list.

I’ve done away with a lot of the rules and other aspects of the project, but the basic premise is the same – keeping a list of 10 famous people whom you admire and respect. The people on the list can change as the days go by, because you might learn about new celebrities who inspire you, or your old inspirations might not influence you as much anymore. Looking at your list at any given time provides a good window into what kind of person you are and what values you stand for.

So, I figured I’d share my current dinner party list with you all. Some of these people I’ve written about or mentioned already; others I haven’t. Parenthetical additions are full names or names in birth languages for reference. I’ve also linked their English Wikipedia pages so you can quickly see who they are. Here we go!

In no particular order:

  1. Yuzuru HANYU (羽生結弦)
  2. Yoshiki (林佳樹)
  3. Sugizo (杉原有音)
  4. GACKT (大城 ガクト)
  5. hide (松本秀人)
  6. Hayao MIYAZAKI (宮崎駿)
  7. Greta THUNBERG
  8. Haruki MURAKAMI (村上春樹 )
  9. HYDE (寶井秀人)
  10. Chachamaru (藤村幸宏)

Have you heard of any of them? Do any stand out to you? A lot of these people are worth learning about beyond Wikipedia, so if you’re interested, give it a go!

Now – what about you? If you were to compile a dinner party list right now, who would be on it? Why? If you’re comfortable, share your list in the comments, or email me. As I’ve said before, I’m always looking to learn.

This week, even if you decide not to make a dinner party list, give some thought to the people you admire. Figure out why you admire them, how they influence you, and whether or not they reflect your values. Make changes if you need to, and then just keep moving forward.

Take care of yourself!

KT

Entry #9 – 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Reflection, Writing Plans

Hi everyone, Kohaku here. I hope you all had a great week!

Over the past few days, all of the poems in 「DOUBLE-SIDED」have been published. What did you think? Was there anything that stood out to you?

I think this was a really good project for me. It’s definitely not my best work, but I learned a lot from it, and that’s generally the most important thing. So in the end, I’m happy.

Now, what should I do next…?

I’m going to get back to working on To Walk in the Footsteps of Angels. I posted the prologue a long time ago but nothing else. A few days back I started reading old drafts of the book… it makes my heart hurt! This is one project I’ve been working on for many years, so it’s really important to me. I’m going to get back on it. Hopefully soon I’ll have something to show for all the hours I’ve poured into this story.

In the meantime, I’ll be posting short poems, daydreams, serial updates, and maybe some photography, as usual.

This week, everyone please give some thought to that one project you started ages ago but never finished. Maybe you’ll want to pick it up again. It may not seem worth it, and that’s for you to decide, but I’m a firm believer that effort will never truly be in vain. Just follow your heart, give your 120%, and keep moving forward.

Take care of yourself!

KT

Entry #8 – Global Climate Strike,「DOUBLE-SIDED」Release Announcement

Hi everyone! Kohaku here. I hope you all had a great week.

I heard about the severe damage caused by Typhoon Faxai in Chiba Prefecture. Hundreds of thousands of people are still without running water and electricity. To everyone affected, I pray the recovery will be swift. Please take care of yourselves and each other as well as you can.

Has everyone heard about the Global Climate Strike? It’s starting on September 20th. WordPress has made it easy for bloggers and site owners to participate digitally. I’m really grateful. Of course, we can’t limit ourselves to digital action, but it’s important to use the internet to spread the word. Everyone, if you can, please look up and join your local climate strike!

On to LAK news…

Paired poetry compilation 「DOUBLE-SIDED」to be released this week!

This compilation is composed of two smaller compilations entitled White Tiger and Azure Dragon. Each poem from one is paired with a poem from the other, and they can be read together as a set. White Tiger and Azure Dragon can also be read separately.

Here is the posting schedule:

  • Monday, Sept. 16 – 6am PST
    • 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Preface
    • 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Set 1
  • Tuesday, Sept. 17 – 6am PST
    • 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Set 2
  • Wednesday, Sept. 18 – 6am PST
    • 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Set 3
  • Thursday, Sept. 19 – 6am PST
    • 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Set 4
  • Friday, Sept. 20 – 6am PST
    • 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Set 5
    • 「DOUBLE-SIDED」Set 6
  • Saturday, Sept. 21 – 6am PST
    • White Tiger Full
    • Azure Dragon Full

Everyone, please look forward to it, and let me know what you think at the end!

This week, join the Global Climate Strike if you can. If you can’t, find other ways to show your support. Climate change is not a political issue, and it is not someone else’s problem. If we all stand up together, we still have the power to save the world.

Take care of yourself!

KT

Entry #7 – Upcoming Poetry Compilations, and Exploring “Imagination”

Hi! Kohaku here. I hope everyone had a great week. Have you taken care of yourselves? There were many tragedies both natural and man-made… To all those around the world suffering from the effects of hurricanes/typhoons, our hearts and minds are with you. Everyone please stay updated on these events and make a donation to those currently in need. And to those on the front lines protesting for democracy and justice, stay strong. The world is watching.

I said last week that I’m working on some poetry compilations. They’re turning out really well! Better than I expected, at least. But right now I’m trying to figure out how I’m going to publish them. They’re essentially two paired compilations where each poem in one is coupled with a poem from the other, which makes the presentation more difficult. Well, I’ll think about it. More on that next week.

In the meantime, maybe I’ll tell you a little of what the poems are going to be about. Have you heard of the 四象 (Four Symbols)? These are four creatures that appeared originally in Chinese myth and were picked up into other cultures and philosophies, such as Japanese mythology and Taoism. Each of the creatures is associated with certain colors, weather events, cardinal directions, seasons, elements, virtues, and has their own set of legends and folktales.

My two upcoming poetry compilations are based on two of the four symbols. You really don’t need to know anything about them to read and enjoy the poems, but knowing a little about the symbols will increase your depth of understanding. So if you haven’t heard of them, I encourage you to look them up and do some basic research. They appear all over the place in a lot of aspects of Asian cultures, even in things such as video games, so you might have run into them already without realizing it!

Anyway, this week I’ve run into a little problem. I need to figure out how to balance taking in inspiration with putting out creative works. What I mean is, some days I’m spending hours reading and watching and learning about art and artists that inspire me, and I end up with no time to do any writing or music myself. It’s a little bit of a problem. I have to learn to balance these kinds of things. I’ll keep working on it.

I wanted to talk about something that happened to one of my dear friends recently. My friend D was learning how to drive, and on her first day, something incredibly cruel happened. She was at an intersection waiting to make a left turn, and because it was her first day and she hadn’t done this many times before, she was waiting a long time to ensure that all of the oncoming cars passed before she made the turn. But, there was a car behind her that also needed to make a left turn there, and the driver of that car got fed up. They pulled up their car next to D’s and started angrily calling her names and using a slew of wild insults.

Now, of course the pissed off driver didn’t know this, but D has anxiety. She can be really self-deprecating and loses self-confidence very quickly. At experiencing this road rage incident on her very first day, she broke down and cried right there. She almost didn’t want to drive ever again. I was really sad…

First of all, I don’t think road rage or any kind of cruelty or hatred like this is a reasonable first response to a stranger’s actions, especially if they aren’t directly harming you or anyone else. But there’s more to it than that.

I don’t think I’ve said this before, but I really believe that the majority of our societal problems arise as a result of people lacking imagination. Let me use what happened to D as an example.

There are many layers to it, but one meaning of “lacking imagination” is that people aren’t able to put themselves in others’ shoes and envision the situation from their perspective.

In this incident, the driver didn’t imagine the situation from D’s perspective. They didn’t think, “Maybe there is a reason they’re waiting so long. Maybe they are a new driver, or an elderly driver, or a disabled driver. Maybe they just want to be safe.” They also didn’t imagine how D would feel in response to their verbal assault. They didn’t explore the possibilities of, “What if my words really hurt them? What if they have depression or anxiety or something and I make them feel absolutely terrible? What if someone yelled at me – how would I feel?”

“Imagination” means giving people the benefit of the doubt. The road rage driver gets this, too, and this is key. Maybe they just got fired from their job. Maybe they just lost a loved one. Maybe they’re in a really big hurry to get to somewhere really important. So, “imagination” means not jumping on the rage train. The world is full enough of hatred as it is. I’m not angry with the driver who hurt D. I just want to talk with them, to ask them to please use their imagination the next time around.

I understand that it’s really easy to get frustrated and impatient while driving, especially in a heavily populated area. It’s also really easy to get angry at someone who just hurt you, and to hurt them in return. It’s easy to get angry at people in general – humans are just like that. But, just because it’s easy doesn’t mean it’s the right way to go.

Everyone, don’t take the easy way out. Use your brain – think, feel, imagine. Then the world will become a nicer place.

Of course, giving people the benefit of the doubt has its limits, too. Trusting in the innate goodness of people can come off as naive. But to me, imagination is not naive – rather, it’s a solution. It’s a practical solution, and one of the most effective ones to combat so many of the problems we now have. Yes, it might fail, it might backfire, you might get hurt. But if the alternative is a guaranteed life of cold-hearted selfishness and hatred, isn’t imagination the better option?

I’ve written something similar before… Check out Zuihitsu #10 in Life = Suffering + Love if you’re interested.

This week, think about what “imagination” means. There’s more to it than what I’ve written here, right? Explore it and come up with your own personal interpretations. That’s important, because “lacking imagination” also means “unable to think for yourself.” There are too many people like that, and it’s causing a lot of societal problems. Please seriously think about “imagination” and practice it. Let’s make our world a better place!

Take care of yourself ~

KT