The Last Best Hope

Finishing Strong!

I completed the Spa 5K Saturday in a record time. It was my personal best, and I was thrilled to finish strong. Notice I had two bicycle attendants and the privilege of my good friend, who is the current president of the local running club, to accompany me on the last leg of the 3.2 mile route.

Admittedly, my personal best was last of all who entered, but I still beat everyone who never entered the race. I also did better than those who didn’t train to walk this distance. We do this by going out for 15 minutes the first week, and adding 5 to 10 minutes extra in each of the weeks to follow. No one does a 5K right off the batt unless a bear is chasing them!

This is the third year I’ve completed the race, and I’ve learned several good tips. First, carry my inhaler so my asthma doesn’t bother me. If I can breathe better, I can walk at a steady pace. Second, carry half a peanut butter and banana sandwich on whole grain bread to eat at the turn. This keeps my blood sugar up so I have energy for the home stretch. Third, hydrate. I carry water because I take medication that causes mouth dryness. If I feel good, I can walk well. My time was 1:07.19.34, with a pace of 21:43/M. I finished 9th in my age group and 291st of 291 women.

Finally, I don’t have to beat anyone else on the course. I only have to finish the race. Each runner or walker has his or her own individual time to beat, their own personal challenge. Of course, someone will cross the line with the best time in each age group, but each person has a personal race within the race. If we want to find good health, we must get up and get moving! It won’t come to our door via Amazon Prime or Dominos delivery service.

Finding ways to challenge our lethargy is tough, for once we begin to sit, inertia takes over. I’ve been there and worn a hole in the cushions of my couch. Sometimes I’ve had to set the kitchen timer to thirty minutes to force me to get up and turn it off. Putting on happy music, setting just one task and giving myself a coffee reward for completing it has helped me get over some of my rougher days. The worst days I had to admit I was depressed and seek treatment.

Depression is a real illness, one often found along side diabetes and heart disease. These are diseases of inflammation and depression seems to be their fellow traveler. It can be treated. We don’t have to live with the struggle of depression. Ordinary life has its own troubles, but we can live with hope and love. We don’t have to win the trophy, we merely need to do our best.

“Again I saw that under the sun the race is not to the swift,

nor the battle to the strong, nor bread to the wise,

nor riches to the intelligent, nor favor to the skillful;

but time and chance happen to them all.” (Ecclesiastes 9:11)

After all, we have a higher purpose in life, for we’re here to be a witness to others. In Japan, the Ginko trees are living fossils, since they aren’t kin to any other tree still alive. When the atom bombs fell, six Ginko trees survived even though all the buildings around them were destroyed. When the trees began to bud, they were named “trees of hope.”

Hiroshima Ginko Trees

Even if we aren’t “much to look at” we can still be an inspiration to others. After all, “Whoever wants to be first must be last of all and servant of all.” (Mark 9:35). You can be the last best hope for someone today, maybe even for your own self. You are worthy. When you’re stronger, you can be a hope for someone else.

Ginko in the Autumn

THE CHANGE HAPPENS OVERNIGHT

Late in November, on a single night

Not even near to freezing, the ginkgo trees

That stand along the walk drop all their leaves

In one consent, and neither to rain nor to wind

But as though to time alone: the golden and green

Leaves litter the lawn today, that yesterday

Had spread aloft their fluttering fans of light.

What signal from the stars? What senses took it in?

What in those wooden motives so decided

To strike their leaves, to down their leaves,

Rebellion or surrender? and if this

Can happen thus, what race shall be exempt?

What use to learn the lessons taught by time.

If a star at any time may tell us: Now.

“The Consent” by Howard Nemerov

Copyright © 1977 by Howard Nemerov.

Reprinted by permission of Margaret  Nemerov.

Source: The Collected Poems of Howard Nemerov (1977)

https://www.poetryfoundation.org/poems/53817/the-consent

More about Ginko Trees—https://e360.yale.edu/features/peter_crane_history_of_ginkgo_earths_oldest_tree

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THE JAPANESE HAVE A NAME FOR MY AFFLICTION

  
Hokusai: New Year’s Days of the Tea House Ogi-ya (woodcut)

O-souji or The Big Year End Cleaning Ritual

I must have been Japanese in a former life. 
So far I’ve rearranged the bathroom cabinets, hung a new curtain in the tub, cleaned the shower grout, washed the mattress cover, cleaned out the bookshelves to donate the books I’m no longer reading, taken the clothes I don’t wear to the resale shop, and taken down the old curtains. 
These I repurposed for the studio, and I gave away a rug I never felt was right. Then I noticed my kitchen tile was dirty, so I cleaned it with a magic sponge. When I opened the ice box, I realized I could see crumbs of stuff underneath the bins. I don’t know how long they’ve been there, but they aren’t there any longer! When one area gets clean, then the next area has to be cleaned also, or it looks extra soiled. 

  
The hardest thing about cleaning this lower part of my fridge was getting my trick knee to raise my body up again from a kneeling position. I thought I might be crawling about the floor for a while until I found a sturdy surface and I could pull myself upright. 

While I don’t seem to have the energy for creative work, I am one cleaning machine. I seem to have a kinship with folks halfway across the world. 

While it is the time of the year for preparing Christmas and New Year’s Eve parties in many countries, in Japan things are a little different. It is the time when people return to their hometown to enjoy a few days together with their families. However, the lack of parties does not mean Japanese people do not have any rituals or culture in welcoming the new year. The one custom which I love the most, called o-souji (大掃除), is when you have to do a big cleaning before the year’s end. This big cleaning usually takes place in your workplace and your home.

The History of O-souji

In the West, the big cleaning is commonly held at the beginning of spring, and people usually call it “Spring Cleaning”. In Japan, o-souji is literally formed by 掃除 (そうじ, souji, to clean) and 大(おお, o-, big), so o-souji can be defined as “a big cleaning” and it is done by the end of the year. Back in the Edo period when most Japanese houses had hearths and fire stoves, the house would rather get dirty by the end of the year. Edo Castle started to be cleaned in December, and people started to believe that the December cleaning was not merely a matter of cleaning the house, but also as a purification ritual in preparation for greeting the New Year God, Toshigami-sama.

The New Beginning

Therefore, the Japanese belief that o-souji is more than only getting your house prepared for the coming of the whole family continues today. It symbolizes a fresh spirit and a new beginning. The most important part of o-souji, known as susuharai (煤払い, dust cleaning), is the act of cleaning your home and workplace from dust and dirt. While doing susuharai, we also give thanks for the blessings of the previous year and we clean to purify the spaces for the year to come.

When to Do O-souji

The o-souji ritual used to start around the second week of December, starting at the 13th day. But nowadays the ritual seems to be done a lot later, even as late as the last day of December (大晦日, o-misoka, December 31st). In many companies, schools, or work places, o-souji is held just before the Christmas holiday comes, around December 23rd or 24th.

Though it seems like space cleaning is an easy task to do, while doing o-souji, parts of the home or office that are usually not cleaned—ventilation fans and windows, the hard-to-get-to tops of tall shelves, lamps, and storage areas that are usually not normally accessed — are all cleaned at this time of year, which makes New Year’s cleaning rather demanding physical work. At this time of the year, fill your house with cleaning products, and pay attention to removing dirt from the parts of your house that never got your attention before. When your living and working space are clean and tidy, you will find that your mood is actually lifted and you are ready to welcome the new year with a new mind!

GREETINGS AND BLESSINGS FOR THE NEW YEAR. MAY EACH OF YOU FIND A CLEAN SPACE IN YOUR HEARTS, LIVES, AND HOMES FOR JOY, PEACE, AND HOPE. 

LOVE, CORNIE. 
http://jpninfo.com/36791