MAY is my birthday month. I like the month of May both in Japan and Australia. In Japan after the spectacular array of delicate pink cherry blossoms that seems to engross the entire nation, May is the season of fresh verdure. The sunshine is brighter and the wind is refreshing and pleasant in late spring. Here in Australia autumn deepens in May and we witness how beautifully leaves grow old, still full of colours on their last days, then they eventually decay. I adore the crisp air in the morning and the glorious sunny afternoons when I can spend many hours immersed in my garden.
It was a culturally significant birthday for me this year. Turning 60 years old is called kanreki in Japan. The characters in the word kanreki literally mean ‘return’ and ‘calendar’. The passage of each of the five elements – wood, fire, earth, metal and water – combined with each of 12 zodiac animal sign years makes up the sexagenary cycle. The cycle of life returns to its beginning in 60 years in the lunar calendar.
I was pleased to find out that mum wasn’t inconsolable as I expected, but was quite philosophical about the whole situation. She was certainly very disappointed that we couldn’t visit them in May to celebrate my birthday together, but she made her resolve to stay well and healthy until we could meet again. I regularly contact her via LINE, a communications app popular in Japan. She is often cheerful and her voice is usually filled with energy, which makes me happy.
Many words were related to joy and happiness, light and luminous and the tenacity of my nature, and focused passion. Some were in French, others in Spanish, Italian and Japanese. I loved them all. Even the word “different” felt complimentary to me. I don’t want to be the same as anyone else, I want to be different and unique. I also learned a new word, “rambunctious”, from the collection. I felt as if I were bathed in the beautiful words, under the canopy of fallen stars of chosen words on my birthday. I appreciated every single word that my precious friends took time to choose. They were the true gift to be cherished and will stay with me for the rest of my life.
In Japanese language, I’m often attracted to visually pleasing kanji characters as many of them stem from a hieroglyph or logogram. However in English I love words with lilting sounds, something melodious that rolls off my tongue like a bird song. If the meaning is appealing as well, it’s sure to be one of my favourite words. Oh how wonderful to be able to appreciate the beauty of languages not only in Japanese but also in such rich English language. If I hadn’t decided to come back to Australia to live so many moons ago I wouldn’t have this appreciation for English words.
To top it off Rob gave me the most beautiful card filled with loving words. The card said
“What makes you different is what makes you special. Nobody can do what you do exactly the way you can do it. What makes you different is what the world needs. The original way you see things, your exciting story, your unique strength. What makes you different is what’s worth celebrating today. Your big heart, your brave life, your one-of-a-kind spirit.”
This says it all, Et. I wish you the very best 60th birthday. I can’t think of anyone else I’d want to spend “lock-down” with, so thanks for being my partner. Much love Rob xxx
* Joan Clark, Family Tradition in Hawaii, 1994