On 15 March 2011, with strong aftershocks of the massive 11 March earthquake coming several times a day and smoke pouring from the Fukushima no. 1 nuclear plant, my partner and I made the decision to leave Tokyo and head to Kyoto to assess the situation from a safe, but not too distant, refuge. On 17 March, we went to Daitokuji, a large Zen Buddhist temple complex in the northern part of Kyoto. We sat on the floor of Kotoin temple, looking out into the garden, as the sunlight streamed over the moss and bamboo, and, from another direction, snowflakes gently fell. We sat for a time, thinking. On the way out, I pondered the famous poem which is displayed in every Zen temple:
Great is the matter of birth and death
Life slips quickly by
To waste time is a great shame
Time waits for no one
I wrote this piece in one sitting that evening. Three days later, we returned to Tokyo.