While I was running, I passed an iced over Mystic Lake.
My poem is written about a moment I had running along Mystic Lake. The road was empty, the air was brisk, and the lake was frozen over and completely still. In that moment, I felt peace and freedom. I engage in these moments especially when I am running because I can experience nature for uninterrupted periods without talking to people, and when I am lucky enough to also escape my thoughts, I can feel these moments. According to Inouye these are learning experiences because they are a “means to enter into the thing, to be emotionally moved by the essence that emerges from the object, and to let your feeling become verse” (Inouye 77). In other words, embracing the animism that exists in the “here and now” infuses you with invaluable knowledge. It is a way of finding yourself. Basho’s journey was his way of learning, evident from his poem: “I cannot speak of / Yudono, but see how wet / My sleeve is with my tears” (Basho 118). He is overcome with emotions so powerful that his tears are the best means to articulating his feelings. Similar to how electronically produced pictures portray a scene often absent of emotion that would otherwise be present in paintings, these moments can be restricted by descriptions. They are hard to describe, and are often better with limited detail in order to preserve the emotion. Here, the painting is Japanese poetry and the photograph is descriptive writing. This sort of experience is what Basho describes in The Narrow Road to the Deep North– a relationship with nature and “the here and now”. The “here and now” is “unchanging and ever-changing”, meaning it is constantly in flux because nature is untamable, yet amidst the evanescent tendency of the natural world, Japan superimposes the chaos with form (Inouye 74). A prime example of this is seen in Ginkakuji, where a sand mound is maintained in a large cone-like shape. This structure is made out of sand, a material that is vulnerable to the elements. Additionally, it has very fine lines, which require frequent refurbishing in order to retain their shape. So while nature is acting against ginkakuji, the Japanese strive to overlay the unpredictability with structure.