The Days of the Dead (Obon) are with us again, as are the dead themselves, the beloved dead, and its good to have them around in spirit, visit their graves, pour water over the stones to cleanse the weathering of the past year, then give the beloved some of their favorite life snacks, leave a sip or two of sake, everyone so busy at these nationwide spiritual tasks during this time of year that once all have returned to their own home towns and their own home graves, the trains are empty.
I get on in the morning and there are only 3 of us in the car; the streets are 'empty,' the offices too. Nothing much gets done there except the dead-end stuff, finalizing all the done-deals. Apart from the many renowned and WOWy firework shows and the lively nighttime Obon dance, it's quiet everywhere, as though we're getting a taste of death itself, which is a good thing for the living to experience every year, a few-day span of focusing beyond what we know; that's part of life too, after all, that soft wall.
Living is dying and vice-versa, we can't really draw a precise line between them; sure, we pretend to, we have various stages and levels, phases and definitions - legal, medical, common sense - but we don't really know of a true beginning or end to any of it, the reason for our ignorance in this regard being simply that we haven't sufficient perspective in our merely living lives; we can only weigh what we can prove.
This what we living conjure up, returning once more to the Days of the Dead: not just the memories of the beloved-- how they lived, what they looked like, their personalities, good and bad points, how they talked, what they spoke of, what they valued, their strengths and weaknesses... We do all that as in a mirror of memories, seeking a glimpse beyond into what must be the truth of it, but that is not vouchsafed to us in the special narrowness of being alive; we must wait to learn what is not forgotten...