Tuesday, December 31, 2002

Goodbye, 2002

Thank you, God, for giving me 2002. It was a year unlike any other.
At the end of 2001, I was changed through loss and pain.
At the end of 2002, I was changed through love and freedom.
Thank you for bringing me a new and wonderful love, for giving me new friends and for giving me the freedom to feel, love, learn and smile.
At the end of 2002, the world seems smaller.
At the end of 2002, I have learned to love others more deeply.
At the end of 2002, I know I have miles to go, still.

Posted by ruth at December 31, 2002 03:31 PM

Happy New Year Ruth!
Thank you for sharing your insight & passion.
Posted by: kane on December 31, 2002 03:42 PM

Monday, December 30, 2002

Bachi Tales

Bachi, loosely defined as "what goes around, comes around," is a mysterious force. Do any of you have "bachi tales" to share? The more and more I hear about bachi, the more I get drawn into it. It seems to be a truth that exists in all cultures, with just some variation between each? Does the phenomenon happen in today's world? Is it coincidence? I'm curious, which is why I'm asking for stories or opinions.

I have several stories that may fall into the category of "bachi tale."

They were sobering stories, told by my mother from the back seat of my car as I drove over the Pali to see Kahaluu's Christmas lights. "Be very careful. People who hurt innocent people get bachi, you know." I was drawn by my mon's hushed voice as she recalled stories of long ago from her native island home of Okinawa.

The first was a village story passed through generations in my mom's family. In the late 1800s, the hired servant of a rich Okinawan family was accused of stealing money. So the family tied him up and beat him, taunting him and demanding that he confess. Fearing his death, he confessed. When they loosened the rope, he declared his innocence, explaining that he confessed only because he thought he would die. So they tied him up again, then beat him, then he confessed. And this cycled through several times. After being horribly beaten, the man was about to die. He was sent home and relayed to others what had happened. The man was known among the village to be of reputable character, and they found it unjust that the family would inflict such cruelty on him. Before the man's last breath, he placed a curse on the family, saying that "this family will be ruined and will not see another generation pass." It wasn't long before all the family members, young and old, died off, leaving no heirs to the family fortune.

In another story, my mom talked about what happened to her own mother, my grandmother. During the war, my mother's father was killed, and her family lost their riches. My grandmother was left to care for four young children. A young man who lived nearby one day began taunting my grandmother, saying, "See? You have nothing now! You're no good! You're poor just like everybody else! How are you going to take care of four children by yourself!? Ha?! ... Ha?!" This young man would do this repeatedly, almost to the point of my grandmother's madness. But my mom said that grandma had enough willpower to endure his taunting behavior. She knew she had to keep a straight mind, if she were to raise four children. One day, the young man drank an alcoholic beverage and had a pain in stomach, then died.

And, there's my sister's story. When my sister worked in the food service department at a Honolulu hospital during her college years, she had a cruel supervisor named Dolly. Dolly made jokes about my sister's handwriting and intelligence. Dolly cracked the whip so her department would maintain "efficiency" and "productivity." Dolly constantly berated my sister and made feel incompetent, dumb and slow. "Hurry up," she'd tell my sister, "we don't pay overtime, you know." Every time my sister worked there, she'd put in two extra hours without pay so she could complete her work. During her five months there, my sister was as skinny as a pole, having worked tirelessly for hours with little breaks in between. It was only about a year ago, long after my sister stopped working there that my sister learned about Dolly's unfair expectations and unethical business practices. My sister learned that the hospital now employs two staff members who perform the same tasks my sister was expected to accomplish by herself. My sister also learned that only a couple years before Dolly was to retire, Dolly was fired. "She was job hunting the way I had been job hunting."

I know this world is mixed up and that, indeed, bad things happen to good people. Still, I can't deny this force - there has to be something to this. Ultimately, unkindness will cost you something.

Posted by ruth at December 30, 2002 05:38 PM

Ruth, what a wonderful post. These stories are so fasinating, and they only strengthen my belief that bachi exists. I have been trying to recall a bachi story to share, but all I can remember right now are those stories of my own bachi. Not happy stories. But as unpleasent as bachi can be, it can also teach us important lessons as well. Some people just have to learn the hard way, and there was a time when I was such a person.
Wishing you Good Fortune in the coming year!
Posted by: kane on December 31, 2002 02:31 AM

Thursday, December 26, 2002


As Don talked about the dead at Vietnam,
I saw white skin over rib cages
And limp torsos bending.
I wanted to nudge them all awake,
Like how I nudge my brother
When he sleeps
After a good TV football game.

Posted by ruth at December 26, 2002 07:13 PM