I used many times to touch my own chest and feel, under its asthmatic quiver, the engine of the heart and lungs and blood and feel amazed at what I sensed was the enormity of the power I possessed. Not magical power, but real power. The power simply to go on, the power to endure, that is power enough, but I felt I had also the power to create, to add, to delight, to amaze and to transform.
Train the body and develop stamina and endurance. But the spirit of competition and power that presides over them is not good, it reflects a distorted vision of life. The root of the martial arts is not there.
— Taisen Deshimaru, quoted in Armed Martial Arts of Japan: Swordsmanship and Archery, G. Cameron Hurst
Life has always seemed to me like a plant that lives on its rhizome. Its true life is invisible, hidden in the rhizome. The part that appears above ground lasts only a single summer. Then it withers away—an ephemeral apparition. When we think of the unending growth and decay of life and civilizations, we cannot escape the impression of absolute nullity. Yet I have never lost a sense of something that lives and endures underneath the eternal flux. What we see is the blossom, which passes. The rhizome remains.
But it was blossom time. Against a sky of pure and relentless blue—that deep but lustrous Sèvres blue seen on certain precious pieces of porcelain—floated branches that appeared to be covered in snow. The breath of wind that moved them was still chilly on this day in May; the flowers gently resisted, curling up with a kind of trembling grace and turning their pale stamens towards the ground. The sun shone through them, revealing a pattern of interlacing, delicate blue veins, visible through the opaque petals; this added something alive to the flower’s fragility, to it’s ethereal quality, something almost human, in the way that human can mean frailty and endurance both at the same time. The wind could ruffle these ravishing creations but it couldn’t destroy them, or even crush them; they swayed there, dreamily; they seemed ready to fall but held fast to their slim strong branches…