NOTHING HAPPENS なにもおこらない A poem/song by Yuri Kageyama
I started working on this song in February 2019. It’s 2023, and I’m still working on it, finally to make a recording, with singing and music. The piece is about how people like to talk about “what’s happening” or what’s going to happen. But most of the time, nothing happens. And nothing needs to happen. If anything, it can be a good thing when nothing happens. With the pandemic unfolding, the song became for me more pertinent than ever. I reworked the song to reflect that. In June 2020, I added the rap section in Japanese that refers to the death of George Floyd. We must not forget how precious those moments are when horrible things that can happen don’t happen, and we can just sit back and enjoy the passage of time, when utterly nothing happens.
The work in progress (Artwork by Munenori Tamagawa):
My father died in his 70s, a big man with big ambitions, prone to cruelty and violence but just as quick with his brilliance, generosity and humor. He calmed down a bit with age. And it was natural he was far more loved by his grandchildren, who found him just hilarious, than by his daughters, who had found him oppressive. His desk upstairs had to be cleaned out after he died. My mother found bags of treats like nuts and kakinotane he was secretly eating, because his doctors had put him on a strict diet for his heat condition. She also found toy magic tricks he had also bought secretly and had been practicing to impress his grandchildren. They adored him, played games, ran around outside with him, going fishing or going on goofy rides at a tiny park. They would laugh and laugh with this old roly-poly man, who was really just one of them, never mind he was a former NASA engineer and university professor. My mother used to say my father always acted as though he couldn’t care less if his grandchildren visited or not. She wondered why he would say such an obviously untruthful thing. That was my father, too proud and too big and strong to admit to any weakness, like missing his grandchildren. There is nothing as heartbreaking as love because even love must come to an end with death. But love that can’t be expressed openly, and must be stashed away like magic tricks in the drawer of a desk. I don’t know what to call such love. But it is love.
Funny how the most unpoetic of activities can become all of a sudden emotional. That, to me, is a haiku moment. And I tried to capture that, as well as honor and express my gratitude for the long years of working with this colleague. I know I will think about him, now and then, like today. Feb. 9,2023.
The world suddenly looks like a splendid and hopeful place when sakura starts to bloom, right about this time in Tokyo. It happens without fail every year. But it’s so dazzling it feels unexpected. This morning, an old man was gazing up at a tree, probably the first cherry blossom tree he saw on his walk. His eyes, behind the glasses, I knew had seen so much, and was seeing all of that, again, in the flowers.
Graves are always There
for those Who are still
Alive to Forgive
They don’t Speak Back.
They don’t expect much
they are ready
to be Forgotten
So when You
Go There, You
will Be Forgiven:
Grave are Gifts
from the Dead
for the Living.
At a temple in Toyokawa, Aichi Prefecture, Japan. Photo by Yuri Kageyama.