“Affirm Life”

I cried this morning while watching footage of the tornado in Oklahoma. I usually don’t cry while watching the news.

Maybe it is because I’m a father. Maybe it is because I have been blogging a lot about peace and compassion.

I hugged my 3 year old tight when he woke up. I thought about those kids huddled down in Plaza Towers Elementary School. I envisioned hundreds of candles so easily put out by a firm breeze. I felt the powerlessness of the fathers and mothers as they watched the tornado head towards their children’s school.

Suddenly, the $46 parking ticket I got on Sunday or the overpriced tickets we purchased to go to Hawaii this summer did not matter anymore. What mattered was the warmth of my son’s chubby arms wrapped around my neck.

When  my older son started to whine about not wanting the breakfast I made for him, I hesitated before yelling at him. I was thankful that I got to spend this time with him before he went to school, even if he was in a grumpy mood.

We spend so much of our day worrying about things, money, and the future. Luckily, this morning I remembered what was really important–life, relationships, and loving others.

Like Suheir Hammad said in a video I posted a few days ago, “Affirm life, Affirm life.” Everything else is just details.

My thoughts and prayers to all the families in Oklahoma. May you be free from suffering. May you know peace and joy.

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35 comments on ““Affirm Life”

  1. No offense, but I hope it didn’t take a tornado to make you realize those things. 😉

    However, I do understand what you mean.

    Whenever my son (2.5yo) gets cranky, and sometimes even pisses me off, I think about my father, who always neglected our emotions, because he was to selfish to step in our shoes (and age) and try to understand us. He used to yell at us, condemn us, call us crazy. What him and his selfishness brought him is an entire family that doesn’t want to speak with him and doesn’t invite him to birthdays of his (grand-)children.

    Little annoyances are just bumps in the road. Love always prevails.

    • twindaddy says:

      It’s funny how much you can learn from a horrible role model. I learned how not to parent from my father, too.

      • Kozo Hattori says:

        Same here, TD. I heard a speech by an author named Steve Biddulf about raising boys. He wrote a book called The New Manhood in which he advocates making peace with our fathers in order to become a better father for our sons. Tall order, but I’m taking baby steps to cultivate compassion for my step father. {{{Hugs}}} Kozo

      • twindaddy says:

        I’ve made peace with mine. It was for the sole purpose of my children, though, so they could have a relationship with him. I never had a chance to know either of my granfathers and I had no desire to deprive my children of that.

      • Yeah, well, I used to say that too, but it didn’t work for me. I focused too much on NOT becoming my father, that I became an alternate (but just as evil) version of him.

        Shortly after the birth of my son, I learned to wipe my entire past off the table and not let my past influence me and my parenting.

        It’s a tough, but necessary thing to do.

      • twindaddy says:

        Well, at least you did it.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Wise words, Daan. Love always prevails.
      I hate to admit it, but it took a lot more than a tornado to wake me up. I was a very hardened and jaded soul until a few tragic events jump started my heart. I still have a tendency to be like your father, but I am working hard everyday to make sure that I don’t end up like him.
      I never used to cry in the face of any tragedy. Now I realize that that heartlessness invaded all parts of my life.
      Thanks for sharing the story about your father. It is a strong reminder for me to love at all costs. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

      • 1EarthUnited says:

        Such powerful revolutionary words Kozo, being mindful enough to “love at all cost”. We all need maturity like this to shape the future of humanity. God bless us all, condolences and prayers to our fellow brothers and sisters in Oklahoma. *Peace everyone*

  2. Lady Lovely says:

    Another wonder share here my friend. In between the hardships of life, we must remember to hold the ones we love close to us, at all times, no matter what. For in the end, that’s what truly counts. Love.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Perfectly said, Lady Lovely. Love is all there is. I like how you use the phrase hardship of life, because it contrast so well with the softness of my son’s hug. Thank you for the love. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  3. Events like this make us look at life… Many times life moves “too fast” for people to slow down and feel. I too have been “feeling” the effects of this storm as it still moves through different places. Being thankful for things as they are, and realizing how trivial my fears at the moment are (I am afraid of storms, having been in a few tornados myself.)

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      So true, whiteravensoars. I would venture to say that “being thankful for things as they are” is a definition of love. I loved my older son this morning just as he was–whining and complaining. I can’t imagine being in a tornado, especially if I was only a 3rd grader. My thoughts and prayers for you and all others affected by these storms. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

      • learning to love people just as they are is a very hard thing indeed! I have come to some acceptance on that idea, which ironically makes you that much more thankful for those in your life you don’t have to “feel” like you have to accept them as they are to love them. (ie, those you get along well with)
        I was a senior (I think) in high school when the tree came through the roof, directly over our heads, in the trailer house I was alone babysitting at. Out in the country… those kinds of events shape you for life, I could not imagine those poor kids!!! Although, when they are younger they are more resilient, but as severe as that was, and the parents… who were helpless to do anything, and after can’t help look… **shudders** yeah I feel for them

  4. diannegray says:

    These events often make us stop and reassess our lives. I also cried when I watched the news, Kozo, and I’m sure we’re not alone in our complete sadness, shock and fear for all those poor people whose lives have been shattered by this {{{hugs}}}

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Dianne, I felt complete sadness especially for the children. I watched a news report where the reporter broke into tears. This hit me right in the heart. So grateful to be able to love and live. {{{hugs}}} Kozo

  5. Well put, my friend. An honest perspective brings focus to the heartbeats of life.

  6. Geo Sans says:

    there are

    always dark

    uncontrollable forces

    with no answers

    ~

    except

    love

    ~

    the people

    the present moments

    that we make

    really matter

  7. It’s sometimes easy to get swept along with life’s every day stresses, even the smaller ones like getting the children out of bed and off to school on time (especially when it’s teenage boys like I have!) it’s harder to take a deep breath, slow down and appreciate all the beautiful things around us and all the important people in our lives and to not take them for granted.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Traumatic events often make us stop to take a breath and appreciate what we have. I’m just trying to get to the point where I won’t need a traumatic event to remind me. Your comments are a reminder. Thank you so much. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  8. It is so easy to get caught up in the everyday mundanity of it all and then a tragedy happens and makes us realize we are blessed, so blessed, Kozo

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Yes, Anyes. We are blessed. We are blessed with each other. And we are blessed every moment to deepen our love and appreciation. {{hugs}}} to you my friend.

  9. Rohan 7 Things says:

    It’s very powerful when something distressing completely trivializes all of our worries in an instant. It happened to me when my younger brother was hospitalized after slipping and hitting his head. He couldn’t move or talk and I sat there holding bed pan after pan as he threw up again and again while waiting to take an xray.

    Suddenly the money, the future, the stupid little arguments and everything else just don’t matter anymore. Wouldn’t it be great if we didn’t have to wait for these kinds of shocks to remind ourselves how unimportant all that stuff is? And just affirm life every day!

    Oh Alex ended up fine by the way, he had a concussion, some short term memory loss but nothing serious.

    Thanks for sharing, it’s an important message! Hugs 🙂

    Rohan.

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      Thanks so much for telling me that Alex was alright, Rohan. I was a bit worried at the end of your second paragraph.
      Yes, it would be great if we didn’t wait for traumatic events to remind us of what was really important. I consider this blog as a practice in remembering what is important in life. {{{hugs]}} Kozo

  10. utesmile says:

    Thank you for reminding us again, htere are more important things than money,the future. Be alive now and count your blessings!

  11. Athena Brady says:

    Hi Kozo, like you I found myself being very emotional watching the news. All the important things are free, its something like this that makes us realize what is important to us. {{{Hugs}}}

  12. Terrible events and i feel so much with the people suffered in another tornado 😥
    These dramatic news help us get closer to our dear ones and closer to the rest of humanity in unity and compassion. Please earth, let all be safe, really we got it… all i want to say.

    You reminded me, when i was a kid myself and picky with food mom offered, she’d say “There are millions of kids who have nothing to eat”, and i’d eagerly be like “Oh, great, then let’s send them my food!”

    • Kozo Hattori says:

      LOL, Sofia. Send them your food. Don’t tell my sons that, because I use the line about the starving kids on them all the time.
      I would add to your prayer–Please HUMANS, let all be safe and free from suffering.
      {{{Hugs]}} Kozo

  13. Sunshine says:

    tragic natural disasters leave not only the physical destruction behind but displaces many people’s lives as well. your message to affirm life is so important and how we should work to live worry free and be radiating love energies instead. ☼sunHUGS+LOVE, Kozo

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