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whatsthatsound On March - 24 - 2011

It has been two weeks now since Japan was hit by its worst crisis in over sixty years. Though eastern and northern Honshu are still experiencing aftershocks on a daily basis, and new concerns about food and water contamination, power shortages, and the ongoing repair problems at the nuclear power plants, and more importantly the incredible hardship being faced by so many in the Tohoku region and the unimaginable loss of life, continue to render this tragedy very much in the present, nevertheless the Japanese people, and those of us who have made this country our home, are coming to the realization that we must go on, and that slowly the process of recovery and healing must begin. It will be hard. Anyone who has experienced “hitting bottom” in their own lives will readily understand and attest to this. This is a song I wrote as I came through a personal crisis several years ago. I dedicate it to Japan.



There are times when your soul’s had to pay so many tolls

that it falls under the weight, and is smothered


it’s as good to you as gone, so you have to carry on

while you wait for it to slowly recover


and you know your life has changed when you go from day to day

and you just don’t want to show up for tomorrow


You look into the mirror, but the image that appears

is a face so unlike yours you’d swear it’s borrowed


I didn’t know where I was going; I just knew that where I was

was no place that I wanted to stay


I was carrying my past around, not knowing how to put it down

and that’s brought me here to where I am today


Just as a river flows, sometimes high and sometimes low;

but without the rain would dry up like a stone


there are different kinds of rain, as there are different kinds of pain

and some kinds you wish would just leave you alone


I’ve had no grand adventures; I’ve just had some ups and downs

and I’ve made and lost some friends along the way


I’m not looking for attention; you can go or stick around

but I’ve got some things I’ve wanted to say


I’m not glad and I’m not sad that I’ve had the life I’ve had

at least it’s taught me some things about living


of all the things that I possess, the one that serves me best

is that I’ve gotten pretty good at forgiving


There are times when your soul’s had to pay so many tolls

that it falls under their weight and is smothered


it’s as good to you as gone so you have to carry on

while you wait for it to slowly recover


Written by whatsthatsound

Writer, Illustrator, Curmudgeon. Ferret Owner. Tokyoite, formerly Ohioan. Much nicer in person.

28 Responses so far.

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  1. Truth says:

    Whats, shouldn’t this be in the Arts’ section? And did you also paint the picture?

    • Buddy McCue says:

      I like this painting too.

      It looks like the same hand that rendered the illustration for “A Letter From Sendai.” Very expressive and emotional work.

      • Truth says:

        Buddy, you were right about that. I so hope whats is going to post in the Art section too. It is exciting to see all those excellent works and different styles of painting displayed here.

      • whatsthatsound says:

        Hi Buddy, and Truth. Yes, the painting (and the one from Letter From Sendai) is mine. In both cases, I looked through my older works to find something that I felt matched the words. Buddy, thanks for the kind words.
        To tell the Truth (to Truth), I didn’t think so much about where to place it. I have only recently been able to post again, as my OS needed to be updated to do so. So when it looked like it was going to work this time, I was just thrilled to be able to have ANY place to land on the Planet! It was one small step for man, but one giant step for whatsthatsound!

        • Truth says:

          Whats!!! I love your paintings! And I really thought the entire post was so artful that it does belong in the Art section. I’m so happy that there is one now, because I like to go back and look at the beautiful pictures/songs/poems/photos etc..

          I so wished you would dedicate another post to the picture from the letter of Sendai. This picture touched me deeply, it is so wonderful. And if you have more paintings, I’m very eager to get introduced to them!

  2. KQuark says:

    Beautiful lyrics from a beautiful soul mon ami.

    Frankly I’m sickened about how the US media has just kind of given up covering the human tragedy in Sendai. I guess because it’s still very difficult to move near Sendai th US press can’t bother to cover this humanitarian disaster. It’s like the direct suffering caused by the earthquake and tsunamis is not sensational enough for the US media to cover because the nuclear crisis is a “sexier” story. I had to turn off the news I was so disgusted this morning when they were interviewing some Californians and they were saying how afraid their were of nuclear radiation. It’s always got to be about us. pfffft

    • PocketWatch says:

      KQ -- any school of ‘journalism’ will tell you that the very first principle in ‘reporting’ is “proximity.”

      Proximity is defined in this context as “if you can’t relate the story to someone or something local, or hook it into a local perspective, it’ll never sell.”

      Pay close attention to any ‘reporting’ in the US, and see what I mean. That’s why they do it.

      • KQuark says:

        Great insight. I guess as we get more and more self indulgent as a society people will care less and less.

        I also blame the slippery slope of aggregation. We are getting our news from less and less original sources.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hi KQ, that’s the truth, isn’t it. “News” is about attracting eyeballs, and fear beats compassion every time, it seems.

  3. AdLib says:

    Poignant and evocative, WTS. Really captured the inner dialogue behind enduring difficult times in one’s life. It can be a tightrope walk between despair and hope, with hope far less visible but the will to prevail reflects its presence.

    Well done, WTS!

  4. kesmarn says:

    Recovery. What a beautiful word, wts.

    Saying, writing the word alone is like seeing a little green sprout coming out of the earth.

    Thank you again for your gift of art.


    • whatsthatsound says:

      That’s lovely, Kes. Yes, I feel the same way. A very important part of the human experience, expressed in one simple, often overlooked, word.

  5. Sabreen60 says:

    Simply beautiful lyrics. Thank you.

    What has inspired me about the Japanese people (from what I’ve seen on TV) is that they don’t freak out. People in CA are buying up iodine (pills and liquid) and kelp (anything that has kelp in it)- for goodness sake. We Americans are such a ‘scary’ people. I admire the resolve of the Japanese people. I wish we would stop being so fearful of everything. Maybe politicians with ulterior motives wouldn’t be able to use “fear” as a means to an end.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Thanks, Sabreen. It’s true, the Japanese are far less likely to hyperventilate and make a huge fuss over things. Far fewer drama types in this country. As Kalima has pointed out, perhaps the Japanese people need to be LESS stoic toward this situation, but I am sure that the lack of freakout contributed to lives being saved.

    • choicelady says:

      Sabreen -- I think that’s far less true of New York folks these days than those on the West Coast. When you’ve had few REALLY bad things happen to you, your narcissism prevails in fear of what MIGHT occur. When you have suffered massive calamities, survivors tend to be more grounded in reality. Yeah -- it’s always about us even when it’s not. But those in NYC now tend to be less fearful. They’ve been to hell and back, have learned gratitude, and learned the power of community. So there is hope.

      WTS -- thank you for this thoughtful reflection. Most of us will never know what you, Kalima, and everyone in Japan are facing now. We appreciate your sharing some of your emotions with us.

    • kesmarn says:

      Well said, Sabreen!

      Fear is the enemy of hope.

  6. Chernynkaya says:

    Wts, You’ve done it yet again! Combined beautiful imagery, poetry and music (even though I can’t hear it) into a tonic for healing. That’s pretty amazing.

    Like our friend Questinia, I know that creating is one of the best paths for wholeness and recovery. And I have needed that desperately a few times over the years myself. I can completely relate to your song.

    Creativity (in any of the arts) puts us in a different brain wave pattern, it affects every cell in the body and changes a person’s perceptions of the world. We can simultaneously look inward and see outward in deeper ways. At least, that’s what creating and seeing others create does for me.

    Many years ago, I was part of an art therapy group, which unlocked so many secrets for me in ways that my art classes never did. The woman who ran that group became a bit famous—she wrote a book that 35 years later is still used: “The Creative Journal” by Lucia Cappachione. I hadn’t thought of that in ages, but the internet being what it is, I actually came across one of my own drawing exercises in her book on line!

    It’s only reproduced in B&W, and it was done quickly with cheap markers, but I want to share it:


    And here’s a Rumi poem as a small way of returning your gift to us:

    Oh daylight rise! Atoms are dancing,
    Souls, lost in ecstasy, are dancing.
    I’ll whisper in your ear where the
    dance will take you.
    All atoms in the air, in the desert,
    They are all like madmen, each atom,
    happy or miserable,
    Is Passionate for the sun of which
    nothing can be said.

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Cher, thank you so much for the image, and the words of Rumi. I love your image. It works so well with my own, I feel. They could be seen as showing the same woman, first lost in her own grief and not seeing the sun behind her, and then facing it and being bathed in its light. Very much a diptych image of Recovery!

      About the music, yes, one of these days I need to make recordings of my songs. With any luck, I’ll do that BEFORE I write a song called “Procrastination”! 🙂

  7. Mightywoof says:

    “….. and you just don’t want to show up for tomorrow”

    Gosh WTS -- what an evocative line that is. The poem is beautiful -- brilliant even, but that line just tugged at me.

    It will be quite a while, I imagine, before the events of the last nearly-2-weeks can be overcome -- both physically and emotionally -- but it will be overcome if never forgotten

    • whatsthatsound says:

      Hi Mighty,
      This is going to take a LOT of time, and a LOT of healing, concomitant with the amount of pain that is being felt right now. But recovery will take place, both for millions of individuals, and for the spirit of Japan.

  8. Mild Bill says:

    The Japanese certainly have had their version of the Four Horsemen of an Apocalypse! Earthquake, tsunami…nuclear facility explosions and meltdowns.

    If someone doesn’t do SOMETHING about capping those plants with some concrete, the fourth Horseman will be riding in on a typhoon!

    And we know that it’s a very likely possibility one will make land in Japan this year.

    All they need now is for high winds and raining downpours to spread the radiation even further!

    The Chambers Brothers -- Time Has Come Today

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