Yesterday, a brief news item in our local newspaper caught my eye. A Japanese poet named Toyo Shibata passed away at the age of 101. It was not her age that snagged my attention. One is used to reading about centenarians in Japan. The remarkable aspect of this story was the fact that Ms. Shibata published her first book of poems when she was ninety-two. Furthermore, that book, entitled Kujikenaide, sold a million and a half copies.
Yes, that's right. A million and a half copies of a poetry collection written by a ninety-two year old great grandmother.
It seems that her son encouraged her to write. How wonderful that she listened to his suggestion! At the age of ninety-two, one might think one's life was over. Certainly it seems a bit late to begin a brand new career. Fortunately, Toyo Shibata didn't believe that.
Next time I'm feeling depressed, I've got to remember "the grandmother poet" of Japan. Humans are creators. We can make beauty anytime, at any age, in any circumstances. Here I am, facing down sixty and feeling old - what nonsense!
Here's a translation of the title poem from Kujikenaide (which means "Don't Lose Heart"):
Don’t lose heart.
Oh, please don’t sigh that you are unhappy.
The sunshine and the breeze will not favour anyone.
Dreams can be dreamed equally.
I have seen hard times but I am glad that I am alive.
Don’t you ever lose heart, either.
I wish I could have met this woman. From now on, she'll be a part of me.