The Art of Gaman in Internment Camps, a Display at Hina Matsuri Festival

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An amazing display of the Art of Gaman at the recent Hina Matsuri Festival.  Art of Teizo Nonaka created during his four year internment at a “camp” where the family was imprisoned after the Japanese attacked Pearl Harbor in 1941.

Gaman is a Japanese term which is hard to translate.  It is best described by a feeling in your heart and a determination of your will.  The words from your heart and spirit are hard to find but Gaman has sometimes been translated as “enduring the seemingly unbearable with patience and dignity”, “perseverance”, “patience”, “tolerance, “self-denial”, “stoic endurance”.

Gaman for those imprisoned in the internment camps was to act with honor, to maintain self-control and discipline.

120,000 men, women and children were living in these internment camps.  They faced guards with machine guns in towers and barbed wire.

They had no furniture except for a black potbellied stove and cots.

My mom had many stories of making do in “camp” as she called it.  My dad was a soldier and interrogator for the US Army so he was not relocated to camp, although his wife was…

The internees used any piece of scrap wood and metal they could to practice their art.  A form of meditation, keeping their souls alive, practicing Gaman.  If they ran out of scraps they used anything they could, such as these peach seeds, for their art and carvings.

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Can we today imagine how long four years of such uncertainty felt?

The Art of Letter Writing

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What can a letter accomplish? Can it change somebody’s day? Change their life?

Not just the recipient.  What does writing letters do for the writer?

I’ve been writing to somebody in prison for about three years.  He and I have become friends and I am also getting to know his dad.  His dad has told me many times how much my letters are appreciated.

I was surprised at how hard it was to sit down and write an interesting letter.  Now that I have shared enough stories about my life with him the writing has become easier.

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I wonder if writing letters is like writing a book? At first you have to get the reader acquainted with the story. As the reader learns more and more about the story, the story flows from your thoughts.

I wonder, when he reads my letters and since he knows so much about me now, is he able to escape into my story sometimes?

Reading my friend’s letters and remembering how hard it was for him to share his life in those first few letters is amazing.  It’s amazing because his writing has improved so much and now sometimes when I read his letters I can imagine what his daily life must be like.

My friend is a true artist. I just realized if I stuck all of his letters together it would be one awesome story!

 

Learning to go it alone.

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Monty jumped on Roscoe playfully last night but the scream Roscoe let out stopped Monty in his tracks.  Roscoe and I were on our way to the emergency vet immediately.  I instinctively wanted to call my husband who would calm me down on my drive to the clinic.

It was a habit really.  Kelly may have worked out of town a lot but he was always available when I needed him.   I remembered again that I was going to have to do this alone.  One more thing in the string of things that happen every day.  Big and small things, things you share with your spouse.

Alone.

Cancer stole Kelly from me.  I am mad, I am sad, but mostly I’m alone.

But sometimes I don’t feel so alone, sometimes I feel like somebody is with me and helping me.  Just when I think:  “Oh my gosh I just can’t do this anymore”, something wonderful happens and I can move forward.

 

Lesson from my dogs, even if its tough….

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My dogs have been working hard with me and trying to teach me to have a better daily outlook.  Their lesson:  Live in the moment.  Don’t live in the past, don’t live in the future, live in the moment.  Even if its tough.  They remind me that’s what Kelly would want me to do.  That was how he lived each day, each moment in the moment.