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this Yamato Damashii June 5, 2011

Posted by caizooka in autism parenting.
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The term, ‘Yamato Damashii’ is a fascinating term used in Japanese history to describe the indigenous Japanese ‘spirit’. In the Heian Era, this term meant distinguishing a uniqueness of Japaneseness as opposed to the imported cultural concepts from the Tang dynasty of China. More recently, Japanese nationalists used the term as propaganda to inspire and indoctrine the ‘brave, daring, indomitable spirit of the Japanese people’ before WWII. It fell from favor after that. Interestingly, I learned somewhere in my studies, that the most pure Yamato Damashii exists in the Japanese who emigrated to South American countries, like Peru and Brazil where they were far less impacted by the Westernization of Japan after WWII.

The other night I was privileged to bear witness to a different kind of Yamato Damashii. It was brilliant. I am star struck and and proud. Proud of my ‘peeps’. I had been searching for a way to help the victims of the earthquake and tsunami. Of all of the countries, this is the one that I speak the language of and know the culture. I had to do something! My heart was breaking by the minute. Then this amazing opportunity fell into my lap. To join the committee of The Sushi Chef Dream Team event. The dedication of absolutely everyone involved was unprecedented. In a month and a half, we pulled together quite the event. Somebody who knew somebody, who had once met somebody…yes, those were the kind of people that flew out of the woodwork to help in every capacity. Everyone worked tirelessly in the planning. Everyone just worked. Each individual humbly humbled by the person working next to them. It’s so hard to inspire people to rally around something these days without being skeptical. I know. I am, too. Who is the money really for? Who is working the hardest? Why is that person involved? What is their angle? What am I going to get out of this? There was something inherently different about this event. There was an unspoken truth to the willingness of every participant. There was a passion, a love, a deep-rooted breath that our ancestors blew into our lungs through the generations. Yes, it does still exist. That Yamato Damashii that was used to manipulate people for a different cause in a different generation, was apparent in it’s most modern, sparkly form on that beautiful night in Seattle. There was such beauty in the devotion of each participant, of each guest. A selfless need to put everyone else’s needs before yours. To elevate the person sitting next to you to a higher place. To glorify the group by sacrificing part of yourself.

I would like to send a huge shout out to my own peeps from my own hood of Bainbridge Island, who pulled out every stop to participate. Jay Matsudaira of TriFilms tirelessly pulled together an amazing, very inspired video of the pre-event and post-event. Hanz Araki¬†graciously came up from Portland to lend his incredible talents of the shakuhachi, a Japanese flute, to mesmerize our attentive listening ears. You two are true super stars and I’m forever indebted to you and the rest of our peeps. Yes, people, the Yamato Damashii is alive in us. Our ancestors would be proud. I’m certain of it.

why did it have to be you? June 5, 2011

Posted by caizooka in autism parenting.
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I’m posting this now…it was written 10/15/10

I love how you are who you are. Lost in your own world. Happy as a clam. But I look at you, and even though you are so happy, sometimes you don’t look back at me. But, it is not about me. It is about you. Why did this have to happen to you? I want you to be happy. You are. I want you to have a full life. You will. I don’t even know what I’m writing about, but there is this sense of pain as a parent to want to absorb anything that might obstruct your child from not feeling his full potential of happiness. I don’t think that having autism is going to prevent you from happiness. I just held your sweet face in my hands tonight when we were carving pumpkins together. You smiled at me. For some reason, you caught me off guard. All I could think about was, “WHY YOU? ”

I see my friend’s son who has had cancer, but is doing marvelously now at age 5. I ask myself, ‘why him?’ ‘Why them?’ I just plain don’t understand why cancer had to happen to them. To him. Why autism had to happen to us. To O. Yes, I see the blessings in disguise, but the pain is undeserved. I don’t get envious very often, if ever. I feel so fortunate to have everyone in my life that I do. I’m sooooooooooo blessed. I wouldn’t change anything, or anyone in my life. But, every so often I see a family of super externally happy, super successful kids. Super athletic, super academic, super whatever. Just super. ¬†Would I want in a million years to be them? Never! But, it does make me think of why something things are so hard for some at times. Yet, some people just seem to coast through life with zero hiccups. Yes, autism is difficult to deal with, but nothing like dealing with a 1 1/2 year old that has cancer. What is THAT about?!!! Maybe some day this will all make sense, but right now, at this very moment, I just plain don’t get it. It’s a big, fat, ugly-ass pill to swallow.

I’m completely in awe of how this cycle doesn’t end. Grieve, accept, embrace, grieve more, accept more, embrace more…then start over. Rinse, lather, repeat. Just when I was in a good place with where we were all at, out of the blue, it hits me. I guess that because O is doing so well and has been able to adapt more easily, that his true autism has been more apparent. No longer, for the past few weeks anyways, have our lives revolved around if and when O’s meltdowns will or won’t happen. When it does, what is our exit strategy. I’m always aware of the easiest exit of any given place. Who will get E while one of us is dealing with O? Who will be able to stay with O while someone else takes J to his events. It takes a lot of coordination. A LOT. So many friends are on my speed dial and have so graciously helped out. Sooooo many. I could never begin to repay the debts that I owe. People have been so giving and so gracious in their love and support and help.