MORE LIGHT THAN DARKNESS
I didn't see the whole thing, didn't catch the name of the small town, just saw the last bit of a news report I guess it was, then it was gone; clicked in right where some Japanese schoolgirls age 12~13 were walking cheerily along a just-cleared road amidst mounds of tsunami destruction in one of the severely afflicted towns, a place of narrow valleys among small steep mountains where folks still live at heights the tsunami hadn't reached.
As the girls walked along they tossed a volley ball up into the air, chatting and playing, passing through the devastation they had just survived. They were on their way to a playground somewhere, I thought, taking that to be the point of this little clip: have hope, don't give up, get some fun, live on and brighten-- until they arrived at a rare surviving building, slid back the door and entered, put down the ball and each shouldered an old-fashioned basket backpack that was heavy with something. They then departed and with their burdens began walking once more, this time in twos up the steep ways that threaded the sides of the mountains and led to houses up there, mostly occupied by elderly folks cut off from a world that is no more, a world erased as far as they could see.
As the girls neared each house they called out a friendly hello, said their names and Here's lunch! From within came a glad response, the pair then entering to bring a meal to one or more elderly folks who had been waiting. Thus the girls went from house to house, calling friendly greetings and being welcomed with happiness. In this way they were meeting the elderly people in their town, folks they would otherwise never have known but now were visiting daily, knew now by name and feeling, saying good morning not by rote but in a friendly, even familial way, bringing food and new companionship to these elders who in their lonely places were grateful…
At each house they'd chat a bit, those elders now having two young girls in their daily lives, like family, bringing them aid without obligation, in return the girls having all these grandmas and grandpas; the girls do this every day and they like it, they like the smiles that greet them and the cheer they cause, the chatting with and helping all the elders only yesterday absent from their lives, as it is also for the elders, who are joyed to have youngsters come to their home and relate to them personally, in a caring way -- it was uplifting to behold.
This is the way it should be, these young women happy to be giving a gift that is more than just the food they bring, each day doing wonders that they never thought of before, in turn receiving the gift that many never come to in all their lives: the understanding that elders need the young, but the young need elders just as much. How better to uplift a society than by such ways as this? Things should be like this, things should always be like this: no distance between the generations, no life without their touch.
On they go even now, the girls among the smiles, beyond the end of that brief part I saw-- they lift up all those lives with their baskets of food, their warmth and words, happy in calling out Good morning! Hello! See you again tomorrow! and going on their way, up to the next neighbor on the mountain. They are heroes, those girls, to themselves and to us all, even to those who have not seen this little story.
I will never forget them, walking through that wreckage, rich with future, on their way to share that wealth with those who yesterday were isolated strangers having nothing but a roof and what was left of life, who thanks to the girls have lived to see beauty rise from devastation with a shout of greeting and the wave of a hand, living proof each new day that the heart holds more light than darkness--
As if to give some other depth to the value of this task, at the end of the clip the adult female reporter, who has been following the girls around the mountain paths for the story, one morning tries on one of the baskets filled with bento lunches and staggers backward at the heaviness...
This ramble appears in Kyoto Journal's first digital issue, #76, a fine publication to be released just as soon as the magazine's long-awaited new website is finally launched. Meanwhile, KJ is best tracked here: http://www.facebook.com/kyoto.journal