The Samurai's Garden

Beauty exists where you least expect to find it.

Every so often I was overwhelmed by a phantom pain that cut through me like a knife. I was certain that if I looked down I would find blood all over, like the knife I once held in my hands, but it was all in my mind.

haven’t been able

...I learned that beauty exists where you least expect to find it.

It is not an act of bravery to try to save your own village. It is an instinct to protect what you possess. Bravery is when you step in to help when you have nothing to lose.

It takes greater courage to live.

It was like a bad dream with only one saving grace: my family thought I was dead. I suddenly felt lighter, relieved of the burden that had been placed on me as a living person. Yet, there was still someone who knew I existed, which made me feel like a real person again, not a ghost roaming the earth.

I wanted to say something back to him, and I knew deep down that he was right, though I didn't have the words yet. Until that disease chose me, I had lived a charmed life of grace and ease, while Matsu had always to work hard for what he desired. He has always known where beauty comes from. Later on, when the disease spread over the left side of my face, I tried to accept the burden placed on me, to tell myself that real beauty comes from deep within. But I'm afraid sometimes I reverted back to my spoiled ways. But, Stephen-san, can you imagine what it was like to watch your own face slowly transformed into a monster? Have you ever awakened in the morning from a series of nightmares, fearing what you might have turned into during the night? I will not lie to you and tell you that it was easy. There were times when I thought I could actually feel my skin shrinking, pulling against my bones and muscles, slowly suffocating me. Matsu comforted me as much as he could by having me work on the house, or in the garden, but no matter how much pleasure I found in them, they were still cold and inanimate. I longed for my past life. Matsu always knew that the peace of mine I needed could only be found within myself.

Matsu gathered up what little was left of the food and wrapped it back up in the furoshiki. 'I followed you and the others down to the beach yesterday morning. I wondered if you might try to find your way to peace as she did.'
'I couldn't,' I began to cry, turning away in shame. Then Matsu leaned over close to my ear. He smelled of sweat and the earth as he whispered, 'It takes greater courage to live.

Please, Matsu-san,' I told him, not long after the house was completed. 'I don't wish to have any flowers.'
"Never once did he question me. I needed my life to be simple without any beauty to remind me of all I had lost. And though I had not told him that, Matsu must have seen it in my eyes. 'Don't worry, Sachi,' he said, 'there will be no flowers.

Sometimes I felt like I would go insane not having the answers to such simple questions. Of course, it was always hardest during the night, then the darkness stole away any signs of hope.

Sometimes I felt like I would go insane not having the answers to such simple questions. Of course, it was always hardest during the night, when the darkness stole away any signs of hope.

Sometimes the house is so quiet I feel like the only noise that fills my mind is what I've created myself. Remembered conversations come back to me as if my friends and family were right here in the room.

Sometimes you can’t let go of the past without facing it again.

The garden is a world filled with secrets. Slowly, I see more each day. The black pines twist and turn to form graceful shapes, while the moss is a carpet of green that invites you to sit by the pond. Even the stone lanterns, which dimly light the way at night, allow you to see only so much.

The things you remember about a person when they're gone are funny. No two people will feel the same way, though usually it has to do with scent, or expression, the sound of a voice, an unusual gesture. For me, I can still see the colors of Keiko; the black of her hair against creamy pale skin, her dark blue kimono with white circles, the deep orange persimmons falling from the brown basket she carried. The ache in my heart grows larger every time I think of these colors, and how as each day passes they continue to fade from my eyes.

...we can't hide from it, we are all touched by the madness of it.

When the water boiled, Michiko poured it into the pot of green leaves and we both waited in the thick silence. I felt strangely calmed by this simple ritual I had seen my mother do many hundred times before. It was all that seemed to make sense in this place and I held on to it as if I were drowning.

When you're young, you can excuse many things, hoping they will strengthen with time.