A small act of stepping into yourself can ripple throughout the generations.
Despite the "pure" spirit, abusive nature of my dad, I realize that he was doing the very best he could. Although we never spoke deeply very much, despite me being his primary caregiver for 23 years before he died, the few stories he told me of his essence stuck with me because they were so rare. Now that he's gone, I can glean the nuggets of their impact in my DNA.
One story involved a cross-country train ride from California to Illinois after he was released from the Japanese American US internment camps when WWII ended. He had enough of the West and its prejudices and decided anything East would offer a new life.
With his sisters, they boarded a train to Chicago. During one stop, my dad decided to stretch his legs and look around the small town. His terrified sisters pleaded him to stay safe on the train since the freedom that was taken from them as Americans had not yet been reinstated in their hearts. My dad, even if he was afraid, wasn't going to let it stop him from stepping beyond the barbed wire of that camp, off the train, and into whatever he might encounter outside of those years in camp. He was an American and was going to act like one.
He bought himself a blue fedora before returning to the train and resuming the journey to Chicago. There, his passion for photography was fulfilled when his hard work landed him as the beloved manager of a commercial photography studio. He lived his dream until family obligations called him back to California to help his father start a landscaping business, leaving a little bit of his soul's path behind. Unable to overcome the obstacles to obtain creative work, especially for Japanese Americans in California at that time, he settled for the menial work that was allowed to our race, gardening.
Despite the sad ending of his story, I always remember that blue fedora, symbol of my dad's courage to go past fear and whatever was unjust to meet whatever was out there.
His ripple lives on in his children - we're all stubbornly determined to get through whatever shit is thrown our way, doing the best we can.
So many of this blog's reflections note the quiet victories in my life and a toe dipping into forbidden creative waters, letting go of my mom's protective admonition that only one artist in my family was allowed (my brother whose artistic talents were encouraged and supported displayed in his great gifts but not my natural love and talent for writing, story telling and photography).
So funny how the barbed wire of an internment camp translated into a compression of a portion of my essence because of a desire to not cross out my mom's best intentions of protection. My hard head always softened around her sweet intentions but I am certain she never intended me to wither on the vine. Creativity is a natural state for all of us and I've suffocated it for so long.
Now that I've looked honestly at myself and discarded the mummy dressings of all that did not belong to me, my eyes naturally see the essence and beauty of everything, however ordinary, around me.
Look for new postings on this site featuring my photos, portraits of every day heroes, and my reflections about them as well as flash fiction mirroring my story telling mind. All created with the hope to bring a little beauty to the eye and heart.
We'll see where this train stop takes me as I step out to see whatever I might encounter.