A mystery, whether my journey was a pilgrimage, coming of age or penance. 17th century Japan closed its borders to nurture its culture and likewise, I locked myself off to family, friends and the world in order to develop my mind. Regarding Matsuo Basho as an absent master, I was following in his footsteps. “Footsteps” being the ultimate word as I was determined to walk from his birthplace in Ueno and follow his route. Along the way I contemplated this supreme Japanese who abandoned his samurai life to develop poetry. Like Basho, I studied Zen philosophy and spent many hours meditating.

The meagre contents of my backpack emphasised that I had said goodbye for a time to Western dependence on commodities. A few changes of clothes, toiletries, bedding and cash intermingled with his books. In fact “The Narrow Road to the Deep North” was my prized possession. Like my Master, I wrote haiku about peonies, bees, frogs and nature. Sadly, I had not met any fellow poets, so there was no renga composed yet. Perhaps just as well locals shied away from my unkempt rugged appearance, as I had not perfected harmony, a Zen quality or simplistic comparisons in my haiku. Gazing at a perfectly formed peony, I was beginning to see the secretive promises in small things and interdependence of all life. Walking through ancient villages, I began to appreciate the sabi in his poetry, his love of the dimmed, inconspicuous and the hoary. Like my master, I wanted to live like a gentle spirit. Other than eating in simple restaurants, showering in lodges, I lived austerely. Now I was heading towards his Cottage of the Plantain, but unlike my Master, I could not totally retire from society. 

Under a cherry blossom tree inhaling both its delicate fragrance and travelogue words, I  hoped for spiritual enlightenment and reaffirmation of values. Deluding myself into believing that I was a meditative hermit-like poet. In reality, I knew that the 21st century would tear me back to the corporate world. But meanwhile-

Basho’s haiku 
Strong plain tender fragile mindful
Par excellence

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8 months ago

I truly enjoyed this story, Margarida. I especially liked this line: “I was beginning to see the secretive promises in small things and interdependence of all life.” I too am aspiring to see those same things. In fact, the Voice flash and micro fiction have encouraged me to see a… Read more »

Linda Rock
Linda Rock(@linda-rock)
8 months ago

I enjoyed the spiritual journey you took me on, Margarida. Sadly, in the real world, many find it impossible to escape from the corporate way of life. A thought-provoking story.

Emily O'Leary
Emily O'Leary(@emily-oleary)
8 months ago

I like how realistic your protagonist is. Knowing that whilst they can enjoy the little wonders of nature, that they likely wouldn’t avoid getting sucked back into our fast-paced, technological world. Balance is key!

Marianna Pieterse
Marianna Pieterse(@marianna-pieterse)
8 months ago

I believe that many of us fantasize about escaping from our daily lives in the corporate environment, even if only for a short while. This, like your protagonist’s situation, unfortunately isn’t always possible. I agree with Emily, I also like that your protagonist is realistic about what the future holds,… Read more »

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
8 months ago

I like it so much, Margarida. Thank you for taking me on this kind of journey for a while. I really love imagining when under a cherry blossom tree – that’s too relaxing. I was carried away. Great work.

Lotchie Carmelo
Lotchie Carmelo(@lotchie-carmelo)
Reply to  Margarida Brei
8 months ago

You are welcome. I am hoping that time will come when I can experience to relax and attain that zen under the cherry blossom tree. 

8 months ago

Hi Margarida – I really enjoyed this story and beautiful picture, and also learned many new vocabulary words. I find your last line very familiar: “In reality, I knew that the 21st century would tear me back to the corporate world. But meanwhile-“ I too have vehemently veered away from… Read more »

Greene M Wills
Greene M Wills(@greene-m-wills)
8 months ago

Well done Margarida! Very inspirational. I love the story of this person who abandoned the unessential to become one with life at its best!

Kim Tennison
Kim Tennison(@kim-tennison)
8 months ago

Lovely read Margarida. Beautifully written with profound thought woven in. 🌺 

Christer Norrlof
Christer Norrlof(@christer-norrlof)
8 months ago

I loved reading about your protagonist being so inspired by Basho and zen-Buddhism that he distanced himself from other people and even decided to follow in Basho’s footsteps on a pilgrimage in Japan. Even if he returned to the western, corporate world, I am sure that he was deeply affected… Read more »

Sandra James
Sandra James(@sandra-james)
7 months ago

A wonderful journey, Margarida, for both the protagonist and readers, and thoughts and impressions that will carry long into the future. I think Basho would love it 🙂

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