When I need peace and comfort, I head to Washington Park in my home of Portland, Oregon, and visit the Portland Japanese Garden. Considered the most authentic Japanese Garden outside of Japan, it is a beautiful, tranquil place all year round.
Springtime brings the pink and white blossoms of Weeping Cherry , Yoshino Cherry, and Dogwood trees. Summer brings the purple and white blossoms of Japanese irises. Autumn brings the fiery red, orange, and gold leaves of the exquisite Japanese Maple trees. Winter brings the white blanket of snow and the red blossoms of Camellia shrubs. Each season brings change, reminding us that life is beautiful, fragile, and impermanent. I feel it, especially so in autumn—and especially so this autumn.
The tone and texture of the times we live in also bring change. Here in the United States of America, good and talented people have spent the last four years trying to navigate our country from the deep darkness of despair toward a stronger light of hope; heal the bitter cold of hate with the warmth of compassion; and confront the rough and dangerous rhetoric of conspiracy theories with truth, facts, empathy, and love.
As I write this piece, the presidential election is still undecided. A lot is at stake—democracy, decency, human rights, public health and safety, environmental health, global economic markets, relationships with foreign allies, American values, and mental and physical health of people like me who are exhausted from feeling so outraged every day.
If Joe Biden and Kamala Harris win, it will not be easy to restore what has been lost in our democracy. But we will never restore the lives lost to COVID-19, police brutality, immigration torture, white supremacist terrorism, and so many other failures of the current White House administration.
So, while I watch the election returns come in, and as every vote is counted, I wait and hope. And I go to the Japanese Garden for peace and comfort.
I spent three hours there yesterday, the morning after Election Day, and then created this video of a selection of the photographs I took. The music is the lovely “Kimono of Tears” by Mandala Dreams. May the images and music—in all their tone and texture—bring you peace and comfort. Take care and be well. Rise up, reach out, and stand strong.
Composed on November 5, 2020—two days after Election Day, after a visit to the Portland Japanese Garden in my home of Portland, Oregon.