There’s this romantic type of guy who has cut himself off from the outside world for a while. Today, he feels the urge to make love to life, become one with the cosmos, comply with altruistic principles as if he were to obey a strict mistress, and offer himself as a sacrifice so that the world is flattered, satisfied, and healed. A cousin of his suggests that he unites with a lovely homo sapiens first.
What seems to be obvious from the get go is that our converted introvert is someone who jumps from one extreme to another. Before the transformation, he relished his self-indulgent solitude. After the conversion, he defined himself as “a single seed whose purpose was to carry forward from the past to the future the life of the species called humanity.” Procreation is a marvelous gift indeed. Which makes me wonder, will this bachelor ever complete the selfless act of creation and achieve balance?
It also seems that this curious person doesn’t find it difficult or crazy to entrust his fate to a cousin who flips coins for fun or to a sparrow that chirps by the lake. Maybe it’s because what we call serendipity works in strange ways. Or maybe it’s because Luck and Nature are better than us at pairing couples? Is this superstition or faith?
Our single philosopher is certain that the lake at the edge of the veranda has the answer. Why? Because he trusts it well enough to involve it in his quest. Why? Because they’re on the same team, and team members have each other’s backs. Why? Because he believes that, same as all the races of the human species, the seven elements of the cosmos (Water, Earth, Fire, Air, Wood, Metal and Ether) join forces to ensure the continuity of Life.
For this symbiosis to work its magic time after time, we must respect all living organisms on this planet and in this cosmos. Lakes and sparrows are a part of this, especially since sparrows as spirit animals symbolize joy, simplicity, unity, protection, and friendliness. Such values are precisely what a newborn adult needs to survive in the urban jungle. These are the pillars that will support all the elements of his inner cosmos. Without them, our hatching extrovert won’t be able to keep up with what he seeks once he’s reborn.
The sparrow reflected in the lake tells him, “Marry that girl. As for me, I’ll be your mate in the afterlife. Go. Be happy!” The revelation took place when the hero’s heart became as still as the lake’s surface. Stillness is the pathway to cosmic oneness. And stillness is the key to seeing right through time and space. To the story’s hero, this truth is as clear as water.
This fine fellow, in addition to being a romantic at heart, has a neck for storytelling. He loves to invent stories till the extent of living them. Maybe he does it because arranging his thoughts and fitting them in a meaningful scenario makes him feel safer or more at ease. Thanks to this creative process, life becomes understandable which automatically makes it manageable.
Nothing is impossible when we’re the narrators. When we write our own life, we control all sorts of things. Maybe that’s what the character meant when he said this, “A person who has seen his fate in the world to come will not be lost in this world.” But did he ever ask himself this, “What if life doesn’t work according to my plan? What if stories decide to have their own ending, without us humans?”
From start to finish, Kawabata asks a gigantic question, “Why are we so keen on signs, symbols, tarot cards, predictions, and other prophetic revelations?” Is it because we think that God speaks to us through them? Is it because we think that everything in life is prearranged? Is it because we do not believe in our own agency? The possibilities are endless.
All this must be deeply rooted in our lore or popular cultures. Fortune tellers and the like are a great example. Is it because we’re afraid of the unknown? Is this eccentric bachelor, like many of us, trying to figure out Life and the next steps he’s ought to make? Are these questions and theories the instigators of a better life? Are they a philosophical fling or can we actually live up to them? What are they? And why do they keep popping up throughout history?
Will he marry that girl? Only the lake knows. Why? It’s because he’ll have the wedding ceremony by that lake. Same goes for his quality time with the kids. Same goes for his leisurely reads when he retires. Same goes for when he’s feeling vulnerable. The lake that looks like the face of God and sounds like the hum of a wife is this man’s talisman. What’s yours?
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