And behold it was a village in the countryside, not many hours from the big city; there among the trees, the narrow streets and the old farm houses a festival was going on in which, among the villagers attending – the elders and the drunks, the kids, the mothers and the fathers – young macho handsome guys put on old tapestries like skirts, danced in the streets and didn't even begin to laugh at one another, wore long red hair and masks and gestured crazily in the complete confidence that deep tradition affords, for tradition is a great strength, the bond of a society.
And so it was good, it was food, to go to that far village fest and behold the young performing these rituals as they had been told, and as these village young have always done, for all the young lives till now and without complaint, for this is the tradition of their place, this is what they have been and are living, the tradition of their forebears far back. So it was that the young went through what for the young is hell: a pained and protracted learning of ancient rituals that have no place in this real world, that take time and slow it down then bend it backwards, when all the thrust of the modern world is forward at top speed into a future made in offices.
To their immediately personal eyes and minds, this ceremony was the stuff of old folks but they did it anyway, faithfully; and so, as you could see in their faces, as the rite took place they began to sense the value of this social bond, that through them, and all the eyes on them, holds all this together against the fast-approaching, sky-sized metablob of uniforming change that is oozing toward them and their village on all fronts; it was food to see and know that what is left in the local heart can still hold together in the face of that onslaught, that the young can still be turned to the good of all in a village where not all youth is leaving for the facelessness of the big city world and its apartness, when here the folk and their place are so together-rooted as to germinate hope for the ancient reach of us each in the world, that hearts may bear this hard-won wisdom beyond this new age to where newer lives will take it up, make it their own and hand it down, so that what is good about growth will go on.
Previously published, in slightly different form, in Kyoto Journal #57.