into the light

t um blin g 
at the edge of the world 
i fall 
down 
tumbling with the awkward
grace 
of a dancer 
unhinged 
unfettered 
unbridled  
and entirely 
undone 
free 
free now 
and cascading freely
down and
over the edge and at last 
tumbling 
tumbling down 
t um blin g  
down 
and 
and into 
the  l  i   g    h      t
 

仲間 (nakama*)

between worlds i fly
with stars sun and moon dancing
my heart wide open

One of the precious things about friends is that they do little things for you which they know will mean a lot. The above photo is a painting of an ancient Japanese dancer holding a branch of tsubaki (camellia) flowers. To me, the painting expresses a unity of nature and dancer, freedom of movement within tradition and continuity, as well as love and sheer joy. Grace and surrender. Ecstasy. It is everything I’d wish to express myself, in my own dancing body. 

Knowing that I would love this painting, my friend who happened upon it by chance, took a photo and sent it to me. And for this alone, I will treasure our friendship forever. There are these threads which we do not see, and yet they are there nonetheless—somewhere and somehow, weaving together our gestures and our footsteps into criss-cross patterns in the unfathomable sky. 

We are dancing this mysterious journey, together, across seas of tumultuous unknowns… across space with no dimension and time with no border. Dancing, without destination nor particular goal. We dance, for love. For joy. We dance to dance the dance. 
It is a prayer in the dark; and sacred offering in the light. 
I will be there dancing, always. 
To dance for you. To dance with you. 
To dance the dance.
To dance.
Dancing.

*仲間 nakama means friends or partners in the same group, often those you have a long-term relationship with and shared experiences. This mini-essay was written for my traditional Japanese dance nakama, to whom I am infinitely grateful.

the sky beneath your feet

~a short meditation on flight~

the sky beneath your feet

gravity moves in two directions, and
falling into earth has its own 
fleeting 
transcendence
the sky is not always overhead, but
when we do
fly up and skywards
we push down first, and then
suspend

in a heartbeat
we are birds, soaring everywhere there is space
and into the strong arms of wind we go
twirling swirling tumbling
landing
just when, the ground rises

it is a love affair with light
it is surrender and a prayer
and dreams surfacing into day
it is the sky beneath your feet

no place to hide

LOVE  is light    which        like the  SUN            has no         place                                        to       hide.

Once upon a very, very long time ago, the world was suddenly thrown into utter darkness and chaos. The notorious Susanoo, god of storms and the younger brother of the sun goddess Amaterasu-Omikami, wrecked havoc in the goddess’s rice fields and committed other acts of flagrant violence which so angered Amaterasu-Omikami that she hid herself inside a cave and barricaded the entrance with a boulder too heavy for anyone to move. She would not respond to any appeals to come out of the cave. 

Faced with this dire situation, all eight million deities of Japan convened in front of the cave and devised a plan to convince Amaterasu-Omikami to come out of hiding. A large mirror was placed in a tree just outside the cave’s entrance and another goddess, Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto, proceeded to dance atop an overturned bucket. Dancing with abandon and stamping upon the bucket,  Ame-no-Uzume-no-mikoto danced and danced and danced and then tore off her clothes all at once, causing the other deities to laugh uproariously. 

Hearing all the commotion from inside the cave, Amaterasu-Omikami could not contain her curiosity. What on earth could all the deities be laughing about in her absence? And so she opened the cave a tiny bit to peek out and saw her own brilliant reflection shining back at her in the mirror! Bedazzled just long enough, the strong god who had been patiently waiting there at the cave’s entrance then pushed the great boulder aside and pulled Amaterasu-Omikami out from the cave. A shimenawa, sacred rope, was placed in front of the cave, preventing the goddess from going back inside. 

And at last, light was restored to the world.

no place to hide

Do not hide your love, little one. 
Like the sun, be bedazzled by the brilliance 
of your own light, 
of your beauty,
and your love. 
Go ahead now, step out, 
boldly and brightly 
into every sky, Shining.
Dancing,
all naked, raw, and real.
For not a single day goes by, 
that does not need your light and
your love,
that does not need
you. 

dancing for the dead

Dancing for the dead is not macabre.
Dancing for the dead, we celebrate continuity, community, and life itself. 

In Japan, Obon is a traditional celebration in which the ancestors are remembered and honored. Family altars are cleaned and special offerings are placed in front of photos of the departed. Those living in far away cities return to their hometowns and to their families. Indeed, it is said that our ancestors too, return to our homes during Obon. For the living, there are gatherings at local festivals with music, folk dances, and stalls selling food and games. Bon-odori, folk dances performed during Obon, are usually done in a circle and the movements are simple and repetitive so that everyone can enjoy dancing together. In the commemoration of “the dead”, we join together as a community and culture—vibrant and sustained.

The stars do not cease to exist during the day simply because we cannot see them. Likewise, the souls of those who have come before us do not suddenly cease to exist at the end of their days. Rather, death is like night—a passage of time between skies full of light. And like the stars, our ancestors dance among us.

do not be afraid

do not be afraid
in the quiet blanket of nighttime 
do not be afraid
dreams come alive and 
love shines in candlelit cascades of whispers 
and caresses
it is darkness which makes the stars visible
guiding us home 
unveiled and holy
do not be afraid
to cross deserts windswept wildflower fields seas and 
mountain rains
the open blue of day welcomes you
warm outstretched and
just around golden pink corners

(photo taken six years ago at an Obon festival)