Tag Archives: Love

Erinaさんへの手紙:パッション(Passion)

サンディエゴ在住のお友達、Erinaさんとの文通シリーズ第3回。今回は「パッション」というテーマで、Erinaさんからこちらのお手紙をいただきました。日本では結婚生活という文脈であまり語られることのないような気がするこのキーワード。お返事を書いてみました。

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fullえりなさん、

日本はもう初夏のような陽気です。春はどこへ行ってしまったの?という感じですが、梅雨になる前のいいお天気を楽しんでいます。

さて「パッション」がお題の記事を読ませていただきました!

火をおこすところの描写、なるほどな~と思いました。20代のときには恋愛は花火のようなものだなと思っていましたが、ぱーっと咲いて散ってしまう花火で終わらないように、そこからついた火をいかに絶やさずにいけるかというところが、一時の恋愛で終わるのか、よりコミットした関係へと発展していくのかの分かれ道なのでしょうね。

私の大好きな海外ドラマのひとつ、”The Good Wife”に、主人公のAliciaが弟のOwenと男女関係について語り合うシーンがあります。

“How do you make “love” outlast “passion”?” (パッションがなくなっても愛情を長続きさせるにはどうしたらいい?)と聞くOwenに対して,

I think it’s not just about the heart, Owen.
Sometimes the heart needs….steering.

と応えるシーンがありました。

Owenには「もっとかっこいいことを言うかと思ったのに」と一蹴されてしまうのですが、一理ある答えではないかなと思います。

Steeringというのはハンドルをまわして車を操作するイメージ。ハンドルを握っているのは自分で、それをあっちにもっていったりこっちにもっていったりすることで、思う方向に進めて行くのです。

恋愛初期のような感情はそのまま何もしないでいると消えるのが自然なもの。さらに無意識に日々を過ごしていると、いつのまにか愛情まで消えてしまうカップルのも多いというのが一般的な理解だし、その前提で上記のOwenの言葉があると考えられます。

実はpassionという言葉の語源はラテン語の「苦しむ」「耐える」を意味する言葉なのだそうです。思えば大学時代に所属していたバッハ合唱団で「マタイ受難曲」という大曲を歌ったことがありますが、これも英語の題はSt. Matthew Passionです。またpassionが「苦しむ」なら compassionは「ともに苦しむ」という意味で、同情する、哀れむなどの意に訳されたりします。

passionにはパートナーへの情熱的な思いというほかに「苦しんで耐えるほどの強い思い」という側面もあるとすると、新婚時代はとっくに過ぎて「いやうちはもうパッションなんて」というご夫婦にも関係がありそうに思えてきます。

愛情たっぷりでラブラブしている2人の間に情熱があるのはある意味普通のこと。少し時間がたって、お互いのいろいろな側面をひととおりわかった上でもまだその関係を良好に保って行くのは、それなりの意思とスキルが要求されます。実は毎日の瑣末なタスクをこなす忙しい生活の中で、それでも夫婦関係、家族関係を良好に保とうと努力している人は実はみんな passionateなのではないかな~という気がしてきます。

面白いことにpassionには「受け入れる」という意味もあるんですよね。我が家の場合は、この①情熱 ②苦難 ③受け入れる の三種類の定義の中をいったりきたりというような感じがありますが、全体としては良好なパートナーシップが機能していると思います。

でも②の苦難ではなく①の情熱を復活させたい!という方にヒントを書くとすると、”Remember who we used to be”というのが大事なのかな、と思います。出会ったころの自分たちがどんな人たちだったかを思い出す、ということですね。

結婚して何年もたって、特に子どもがいたりすると、デートし始めたころの自分たちがどんな感じだったのかというのはもう思い出せないくらい昔の話になってしまったりしますよね。そのときに2人が夢中だったことや一緒にやっていたことを、あえてまたやってみるという提案です。

私たち夫婦の場合は出会いがスウィングダンスで、今も続けている共通の趣味なので、やはり2人だけでダンスのイベントに行くときには昔の(結婚前の、あるいは子どもたちが生まれる前の)ふたりに戻るような感じがします。必ずしもダンスに行かなくても、二人だけで出かけるのは私たちにとってはやはり夫婦関係を良好に保つためにとても大事にしている習慣のひとつです。

特に共通の趣味はなかったのだけど・・・という方でも、結婚に至るまでの道のりで、ふたりで多くの時間を費やしたアクティビティが何かしらあるはず。子どもがいると、ベビーシッターを雇うとか周囲の理解を得るなどのハードルはいろいろとあると思いますが、これも結婚生活を少しでも楽しく、またラクに続けるための必要経費だと私は考えています。それだけの価値がある関係なのですから。

ということで、Erinaさん、次回のキーワードは investmentではいかがでしょうか?お返事お待ちしています!

(image by Josh Felise)

“You never know”

この夏、ポートランドとシアトルに家族旅行をしました。シアトル郊外には、私がカリフォルニア州モントレーで通った大学院時代の友達が住んでいます。彼女がカリフォルニア州からワシントン州に引っ越したあと、2001年の冬に初めて彼女を訪ね、そのあとも機会があるごとに会ったり、連絡を絶やさず取りつづけている友人のひとりです。

今年の夏に会ったときは、二人だけでじっくりと話す時間がありました。長い間交際しているパートナーとのことになったとき、彼女は「今までで一番ベストなパートナーシップを築いている相手。結婚して何かが変わってしまってだめになるカップルもたくさんいるから、そうなるくらいなら今のままでいい」と言っていました。パートナーはアメリカの軍勤務で、あと1年半ほどで20年を勤め上げ軍人としてのキャリアは終了するというところ。ちょうど私たちが訪ねていったときは航海の途中で、数週間後に帰るというときでした。数年前に2人でサンディエゴに遊びに来たときに会ったこともある人で、今年の6月ごろ「初めて日本に行くけど、どこかお薦めの場所はあるか」と聞かれ、メッセージを交わしたりしたのです。

その彼が、8月中旬に大好きなバイクのツーリングをしている最中、事故にあって帰らぬ人となったことをFacebookで知りました。あまり突然のことで、少し時間がたった今でも信じられない思いです。Facebookの本人のページには多くの人からメッセージが寄せられ、彼との思い出を語るストーリーや写真が投稿されています。前妻との間に10歳くらいになる男の子がいた彼。友人に子どもが欲しいのかどうか聞いてみたとき、タイムリミットが近いのでもし本気で子どもを持ちたいかもと思ったとき、彼は一緒に考えようと言ってくれていると話していました。

彼女からのFacebookの投稿は、家族や友人に、お葬式の日時や軍隊が彼の写真を集めたいと言っていることなどを淡々と知らせる内容のものが多く、彼女が経験しているであろう悲しみやつらさは測り知れないものがあります。彼の死を知らせる彼女のメッセージには”He died when he was doing what he loved” と書かれていました。2ヶ月ほど離れ離れになっていて、やっと彼女と住む家に帰ってきたその翌日のことだったそうです。本当にいつ、この人生という「旅」が終わりになるのかは誰にもわからないこと。「毎日を悔いのないように生きよう」と言うのは簡単でも、実際にはそれほどたやすいことではありません。それでも、知らせを受けてから日に一度は彼女と、そして彼のFacebookを訪れて、ふたりのストーリーが語られるのをそっと読ませてもらっているのでした。最愛の人に先立たれてしまった友人のこれからに幸あれと強く祈りながら。

New Beginnings (again)

Our son was born on 2/22/2012. I was secretly hoping to have him on that date so it was a happy coincidence that he actually decided to be born that day. I started having contractions the night before, and decided to go to the hospital in the morning after having breakfast and taken kids to schools. Delivery went smoothly and uneventful, and he was born at 3:04 in the afternoon that day. Our kids came to see him later at the hospital that  evening. It was definitely an emotional day for me.
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Fast forward three months – he is growing nicely, despite the fact that he has been hospitalized twice already. On the first incident, he developed a lump on his upper right cheek when he was  about 7 days old, and it wasn’t getting smaller over time.  We decided to present the lump to an after-hours pediatrician on the weekend instead of waiting until Monday, who sent us to the Emergency Room. He was admitted to NICU that evening and spent next 10 days in the hospital – it turned out he was infected with MRSA. We never found out how he’s got it, but apparently MSRA bacteria is among us (Community-MRSA) so it could have been anywhere. After ten somewhat stressful days, he was able to come home with oral antibiotics. After another week or so, he got a clean bill of health and was able to wean off all the meds.
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Then just last week, he developed a high fever, and after consulting with nurse over the phone, we decided to take him into the ER again. My husband took him in and while he was at ER, his oxygen level dropped to an alarming level where nurses made the call to intervene  with an oxygen mask. Naturally doctors wanted to keep him for observation. His fever spiked even higher later in the morning, so he stayed two more nights, doing all kinds of tests. Well, they ruled out bacteria, and dangerous kinds of viruses. They never figured out what caused the fever in the first place, but he was better by the 2nd night so he was discharged from the hospital.
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At home, Baby Hirot likes to be held a lot. He is a good eater. He recently started smiling and making quiet cute audial baby noises. Our older sons, now 4.5 years old and almost 6 years old, love their baby brother. It is one of my favorite things to see how much they adore him. Another thing about him is that, unlike most babies, he doesn’t like riding in a car seat and he almost always cries. When I tell people I have three boys, most people say “Wow”. Sometimes people ask me if I wanted a girl, and/or ask if we would still try for a girl. To that, I say – after having lost the previous pregnancy at 16 weeks, I am kind of over that boy/girl thing, and that I am grateful that we were given another chance to raise another baby. But sometimes people press like “You must try for a girl” or “At some point you should give up, right?” To that, I don’t really know what to say. The other day, one of the teachers at my son’s preschool said “Three boys! You are a chosen mom”. I liked that comment a lot (I do think I am good at making cute boys). I hope this trip to ER followed by hospital stay does not become his “thing” – we need to reinforce more strict hand-washing before touching him – but that kind of experience gives you perspective. Nothing is certain or guaranteed in life. We are all given equal chance of choosing to feel grateful and make the most of the time or the situation. I am grateful to be given another day with him, and with everyone in my family.

Expecting…..

We are expecting to have a baby, due early March in 2012. As usual I had not shared this news with a bigger circle of friends until way later than the first trimester; this time, I had been holding my breath (figuratively) to go beyond 16 weeks because that was when Miroku left us. Now I’m in my 29th week and I feel the baby kicking and moving. That does not guarantee anything, but what’s guarantied in life anyway, right? I am just taking it one day at a time, enjoying this time – most likely the last time that I’ll experience this magical time of having a baby growing inside of me.
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This summer, I didn’t do much work. Being a freelance has its share of upsides and downsides, because if you lie in bed, not working, then obviously not much work gets done. In my previous pregnancies I worked in an office, so they paid me whether or not I was being productive. But this time I was determined to put this pregnancy to the top of my list of priorities. I knew in my head and heart that it (lying in bed when I needed it) was the best thing and that is what I should be doing. Even then, sometimes I heard voices in my head saying that I should be doing more – getting work done, write one more blog post, responding to emails, and whatever else I had on my “to-do” list that day, week or month.
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So a few weeks ago, I raised this question during the course I had attended. My teacher and mentor Pam had a brilliant insight as usual – she asked me what I was accountable for when I was resting in bed. Was I being accountable for nurturing my baby, or getting the work done? I said “the former”. But then, she pointed out, I didn’t do a good job of silencing the voice, nudging me to get up and get some work done.  It turned out, I was not consciously choosing to rest. It is a subtle distinction but it makes all the difference. If I chose to do something, I am not doing something else at any given time. Sometimes there is an opportunity cost. But choosing to do something over other things means that I am responsible for the consequences of my choice, and dreading over what I am NOT doing because of the choice I have made was not serving me.
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The other thing I realized was is that I sometimes expect too much – too much from myself, my abilities, or from life. Maybe sometimes even from other people, like my husband or kids. I sometimes look at my husband and feel like he is a very happy person precisely because he does not expect much from other people. Most of all, he does not expect others to make him happy. For example, when we come home from a trip and when I ask him what the best part of the trip was, his first answer is always “that we came home safe and sound, no one got seriously sick or hurt”. That’s the bottom line and anything beyond that is an icing on a cake.
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I remember that after we lost Miroku, all I wanted for and from my other kids was that I’ll see them again the next morning. I secretly prayed (and am still praying) that they’d still be alive when I wake up. And yet, it’s amazing to realize how quickly I forget. I don’t think it’s necessarily negative to have expectations; it can be a driving force and source of motivation. But at the end of the day, I want to be grateful for what I have done rather than regretting about things that I have not done. Being conscious about what I am accountable for will help me with that.

“If this is my last night on earth…..”

Enough people (including myself) wrote about Steve Jobs and his passing, but this is my favorite episode of his life;

From “9 things you didn’t know about the life of Steve Jobs”, this one is with the title of “The wife he leaves behind”. It says:

For all of his single-minded dedication to the company he built from the ground up, Jobs actually skipped a meeting to take Laurene on their first date: “I was in the parking lot with the key in the car, and I thought to myself, ‘If this is my last night on earth, would I rather spend it at a business meeting or with this woman?’ I ran across the parking lot, asked her if she’d have dinner with me. She said yes, we walked into town and we’ve been together ever since.”

They met in 1990 and got married in1991 at Yosemite National Park by a Zen Buddhist monk. I can’t imagine what Laurene must be going through in these past few weeks – losing a life partner for over 20 years. As much as she was proud and supportive of the work Steve Jobs have done, I wonder there were days or nights where she wished he would have been with her and their children.  In the end, what matters is whether you found joy in your life, and whether you shared that with someone you love. His story about this love can be an inspiration for people who say they want to find someone to love, but make other things more important than taking the time, and chance, in finding out if the person next to is the one to love.

Hajime’s Story

Last weekend I assisted the Remembrance course. It had special meaning to me because of the participants I personally enrolled. One such participant, Hajime, is 18 years old and has ALS disease. We raised enough money for him and his mother, and I was pleased to see them both on Friday evening at the Indigo Village which was where the course took place.  Even though I trusted that this course will “help” Hajime, I did not know what kind of expectations he or his family had coming in, nor how exactly it could help him. I maintained a poker face while they were settling in their seats before the course begun, but to be honest, I was terrified.

The Remembrance Course takes place a few times a year in San Diego. What happens during this course is that participants take turns to get up to stand in front of the class and introduce themselves by sharing – they talk about what they want to get out from this course, what challenges they are facing, and how they would like their lives to be different. Instructors guide the person in the spotlight, and everyone in the room, both participants and assistants help to take part in this process. Everyone’s turn looks different as there is no cookie-cutter format for each person to get what he or she is there to get.

Hajime was the last one to go on Saturday. Most participants had not been informed about his illness until that point. When it was finally his turn and the instructor told the group about it, I felt like I could hear what is going on in their heads.  We talked about ALS and his fear and sorrow. We discussed how trying not to feel pain or sadness also limits the extent you feel joy and happiness, because you can’t take just “good” parts in life – it’s a package. If you try to numb yourself so you won’t feel seemingly negative feelings, you also won’t get those feelings at the other end of the spectrum. Also, we helped him see that it is his responsibility to keep the friends whom he can express his honest emotions with.

After that, we were instructed to tell Hajime what we had learned from him – not from a place of feeling sorry for him, because that would not help him in moving forward, but from a place of love and gratitude. We each took turns to tell him how courageous he was for being there, how caring he was towards his mother and how bright his smile was and how much his presence in the course encouraged them. His mother was the last one to share, and she told him what a tremendous gift he has been to her and the entire family, and how much she love him. As a mother, I couldn’t help but feel for her. The thought of losing a child is one of the fears all parents may have to deal and live with, even if there was no obvious reason to fear.  This possibility becoming a reality because of a specific reason likes this – it is something a mother should not have to go through. During this course, Hajime and his mother learned that it is okay and safe to express those feelings of fear and sadness, even to each other. They learned how not to take the responsibility of making the other person happy, and that way, they can feel safe to be upset or sad in front of the other person and be comfortable with all of those emotions. I believe that lesson was the real gift. I would love to build such relationship with my two sons when they are older.

After the course, I had a chance to talk more with Hajime. He had a very different facial expression than when I first saw him on Friday. His eyes were twinkling with excitement. He was so happy to feel everyone’s love, and he shared with us what his plans are for his future; returning to assist the course in April, graduating high school, going on to his dream school in San Francisco, assisting this course for teens…. He couldn’t stop talking about the course and said that more people should know about this course. I was relieved that the course had such a positive impact on him – and more than that, I learned to take a chance in inviting someone if I think that this is beneficial for him or her, despite the fear of rejection, or the possibility of this experience turning out not so great. As Susan Jeffer said, feel the fear and do it anyway, because the possible outcome is just too great not to give it a chance. The next Remembrance course is from April 29th through May 1st and you can enroll here.

Meaningful Life

This year I have made so many good friends whom I initially met on Twitter or Facebook. There is a particular group of friends I’ve been close with this past 6 months, and they threw me a party in San Diego after I returned from my book tour in Japan.

Later that evening, I learned that one of my friends in the group, Hozue’s 17-year-old son, Hajime has ALS disease (also known as Lou Gehrig disease). He was diagnosed with this disease in fall this year, and he has already started having some difficulties with his speech. It is said that it’s one of the most difficult diseases one could have, because you will lose all of the muscle in your body over time while your consciousness is still intact. When my friend told us about it, I started to think about how I could help her and her son.

The answer came immediately; Enroll her son to the Remembrance course. It’s a weekend course which takes place at the Indigo Village in San Diego, and the next course is from January 21st through 23rd, 2011. I spoke with my mentor Susie Walton and Pamela Dunn, and they both agreed that the course will offer him a space to express his feelings as well as help him gain some tools to face his fears. I then talked to Hozue about this idea, and she spoke with her husband and her son – they agreed to move forward.

This is where I ask you for your support. I want to raise the course fee of $425 so her family can enroll Hajime for the Remembrance course. If you want to contribute, there are two ways to do so;

1.    Check
Write a check payable to “Indigo Village Educational Foundation”. Write “for Hajime Miyasaka’s course fee” on memo space and send it to
Etsuko Tsukagoshi, 3142 Midway Drive B212 San Diego CA 92110

2.    On-line via Indigo Village Educational Foundation
For this option, the donation amount is set for $25, $50, $100 etc. but you can use your credit card to donate. Since there is no space to indicate that this is for Hajime Miyasaka, send me an email after you have donated this way (my email is etsuko@mypeacefulfamily.com)

Indigo Village Educational Foundation is a non-profit organization,  so your contribution will be tax deductible. I’ll be responsible for compiling the excel sheet to keep track of who has donated how much, so we can make sure that all of the donations will go towards Hajime’s course fee. Since the course will start on January 21st, if you could send the donation in by January 15, 2011, I would greatly appreciate it.

There is no cure for ALS disease. I won’t pretend that the Remembrance course will prevent his disease from progressing. Our life is ending one day at a time – that is true for everyone on this planet. But Hajime is only 17, and his life will be cut shorter than he or his family members have ever imagined. I trust my mentors, course instructors and my intuition that the Remembrance Course will give him the tools to deal with what remains of his short, yet meaningful life.

“The End”

The final episode of the TV show “Lost” aired last Sunday. (Spoiler Alert! Stop reading now if six-feet-underyou don’t want to know the ending) Even though I was not a rabid fan who religiously watched the show weekly over the last 6 years,  I did watch many of the  episodes this past season on-line. For the most part I was satisfied with how it ended, and was happy to see the last scene. Depending on your point of view, it was a happy ending. It made me think that dying is not at all a bad thing. It also reminded me of the last episode of my all time favorite HBO TV show “Six Feet Under”. Everyone dies sooner or later, no one escapes from it. But if you have come to terms with yourself as who you are and have made peace with what you have done, or what has happened to you or to people you care about, you can move onto what comes next after you die. The possibility of reuniting with people mattered to me most is definitely something to look forward to when it’s my turn to cross that bridge.

It was interesting to read people’s reaction in the comments section of abc.com where I watched the last episode. Some people were not happy at all about the last episode. It seemed that there were lots of questions unanswered especially about the secrets of the Island. Some expressed their frustration by saying things like “I wasted six years for this ending!?” While I understand their sentiments, I wondered if those who felt cheated really did not enjoy this past 6 years watching the show. I hope they kept watching it not just to learn what happens in the end, but also because it was entertaining, thrilling, or touching. It’s like anything in your life. Like the spiritual teacher in the movie “Peaceful Warrior” said, “it’s not the destination, it’s the journey”. If your eyes are only looking at where you are going and not paying attention to the surroundings, you might be disappointed when the view at the destination is not as pretty as you had expected. But if you have immersed yourself in the experience and fully enjoyed the process of getting there, what’s in the end matters less, if at all. In a sense, we all know what happens in the end at this life – we all die – so it should make sense to most people that it’s not what happens in the end but how much you experience in the process of getting there. The last episode of “Lost” also suggested that how you live your life dictates how you die or who would be around you when you die. Did you live your life fully today? Make it count as you never know when you get there.

Standing On Your Own Feet

Last Saturday, we went out to this fabulous outdoor dance event called “Lindy by the bay”. It was a warm sunny afternoon, and lots of people were out dancing. Ever since we 674_bac_fea_swingdance2_032707had two kids, we don’t go out dancing as much as we used to, but every time I have a chance, I ask myself why we don’t do this more often. That Saturday I danced with one of the best dancers in San Diego for the first time in a long time (who happens to be the organizer of this event).

I was a little bit nervous as I hadn’t danced for a very long time, but as soon as we got into it, I found myself totally in tune with his lead and it was so much fun. While dancing with him, I remembered this simple fact that in order for both a leader and a follower to have a great dance, both of them have to stand on their own feet. There is this lead/follow concept in a couples dance, and as a follower, I would follow my dance partner’s lead and go where he leads me to go – but I need to stand (dance) on my own feet. If I don’t have control over my own body or where I’m going, I might crush into my partner or someone else.

I thought that this is like a relationship. In order for a couple to truly enjoy each other and the relationship, or “the dance”, both parties need to be on their own feet. This doesn’t mean that they can’t support each other or lean one another at times. But when you are in a relationship, being your own person is very important. When you know and love yourself, and accept yourself for who you are, that’s when you don’t “need” the other person to make you happy. Dancing with a great leader reminded me of these things and that’s another reason why I love it – sometimes great ideas come to me while having an amazing dancing experience.

Princess And Frog

A few weeks ago we went to a military movie theater with our kids to watch a Disney movie “Princess and Frog”. I was curious if our older son could sit through a 90 minutes animation film, and princess-and-frog-posterit turned out he did fine for the most part, though there were some parts where a voodoo doctor appeared which was scary for him. It was an entertaining story with so much color and music, with an unique storyline; The main character Tiana turned into a frog when she kissed a voodoo cursed frog, thinking it’ll turn him back to a prince. Together they visit Mama Odie, hoping that she’d undo the curse, but she told Tiana that she needs to understand the difference between what she wants and what she needs. Continue reading