Three parallel, personal experiences are what have brought you here.
In late September, 2019, I received a text message really early in the morning. The gist: ‘I don’t tell friends and family often enough that I’m thinking about them.’
The message really hit home, so much so that it made me feel a sense of guilt as to where I’ve come in these almost 43 years. So afraid of boredom that I’ve enveloped myself in a bubble that I feel thrives only on structure, schedule and a general sense of uncompromising pre-occupation.
And within this introversion, I’ve long given up the art of the written letter (and within those letters, poetry) which was such an important part of my early life’s communication and those accompanying friendships.
And more recently, the convenience of a stripped down, quick phone call just to say ‘hello.’
And now, in the new age of texts and DM’s, the failure to reach out, and in most cases, simply to reach back…to you.
A couple days after reading that text message, I stumbled across a very moving personal essay by Haruki Murakami (titled ‘Abandoning a cat’) regarding his father; A man, studying to be a Buddhist priest. But due to an unfortunate clerical error, his exemption from military service was overridden, sending him to the front lines of the second Sino-Japanese war.
As anyone could imagine, he experienced the most awful of situations:
‘…His unit was constantly on the move, clashing with…troops and guerillas who put up a fierce resistance. In every way imaginable, this was the opposite of life in a peaceful temple in the Kyoto hills. He must have suffered tremendous mental confusion and spiritual turmoil. In the midst of all that, writing haiku may have been his sole consolation. Things he could have never written in his letters–expressing himself in a symbolic code, as it were–where he was able to honestly bare his true feelings…I’m no haiku expert so it’s beyond me to say how accomplished his were. Clearly, what holds the poems together is not technique but the open, honest feelings that underscore them.’
Upon finishing Murakami’s essay, I snagged a clean journal, and having never tried haiku, penned my first sequences, following its 5/7/5 syllabic pattern:
#21 To N.L.
Never crack windows
Those deserving of the prize
Will deliver first
#19 To J.C.
‘Under the city
Lies a heart made of ground, but
Humans give no love’
#36 To L.P.
The weakest link breaks
A fetid aphorism
Learn-ed from mistakes
Over an indefinite period of time, I’ll be sending postcards to my loved ones; family, friends, those many people who’ve had a positive impact on my life.
Each postcard is a personalized haiku. Of something we’ve shared together; an experience maybe, a conversation, or a simple memory that I’ll never shake.
Each haiku was written within a single day. No more. And I’ve been strict with that, allowing each of you to sit, solely in my thoughts for a solid 24 hours within the writing process.
You deserve that…it’s the least I can do to be a better friend.