I learned a lot from Ryo’s wise, 87 year old grandfather (Ojiichan) while we were in Kyoto. Dinners at home were for story-telling. While I didn’t necessarily understand anything that was said — except for when Ojiichan used the occasional English-sounding word or very obvious hand gesture — Ryo did his best to paraphrase the stories after he was done telling them.
Ojiichan is very poetic. He spent his entire life as an educator — first as a teacher, then a principal and now as a mentor for many former students. To Ryo he said, “When people ask me how I am doing after the loss of your grandmother I say, ‘My heart shattered into a million pieces, and every day I pick out a piece like shattered glass.’”
Each piece of glass is a memory. Whether the memory is good or bad, each one is painful to address and move forward from, just as glass is painful to remove from the flesh.
When our hearts break from loss, disappointment or general sadness, we have a choice to make: 1. We can continue to live with glass intact, slowly letting our wounds infect us, killing us physically, emotionally or spiritually. 2. Or we can carry on by slowly removing one piece at a time, recognizing that each shard of glass — each memory — made us into who we are today.
By dealing with a shattered heart — whether from the loss of a loved one, a failed test, unmet expectations, a lost job — we become stronger. In the moments immediately after tragedy it could seem impossible to move forward. You’ve find yourself wondering how this unbearable sadness/pain/disappointment could ever turn positive? How can I move forward when everything I see, smell or hear reminds me of what I’ve lost?
When met with the difficult challenge of moving forward, let emotions as they rise and fall. Cherish memories. Practice self-care and slowly remove one piece of glass at a time.