Last night I watched “The Last Samurai” … again. It is one of my favorite movies. I seem to never tire of it and its shower of lessons. I love the script, the way the story tells of honor, of devoting oneself to perfection in all you pursue, of looking for and finding perfection in a cherry blossom. There is so much beauty in this story of war and the passing of valiant and honorable old ways.
Perhaps I was, or am, a samurai in another life.
Normally when I watch it I have difficulty with the great loss: the encroachment of what is called civilization, the death of Nobutada, Katsumoto’s son, the extermination of the Samurai at the end. Seems death and destruction is how regime change takes place in the name of civilization.
Tonight, watching was a different experience for me. Instead of flinching and looking away, I allowed myself to sit the horse and enter the battle, to ride with my friends down the blood red field, sword lifted against Gatling guns. I was the moment, a part of history. I rode within the hearts of the Samurai.
The unending storybook unfolded its pages, showed me the beauty, the gallantry, the passion and fire of not war, but life. Life, precious intimate messy painful sublime grief-filled passionate experience — starring each and every one of us. We play our roles, do our parts, look down the throat of beauty ugliness cowardice valor courage and meet it with less than favorable odds. The odds are never in our favor, at least not for long.
What is this life but a study in courage, the wrenching open of the heart, an inquiry into anything a mind can imagine, a grand experiment with infinite possibilities. None of us will get out alive and yet we gather the broken pieces of our hearts and bodies and give life our best, knowing we will lose everything. Valiant. Courageous. Magnificent.
That’s what I saw so clearly and felt with such power last night. Had I not been sitting I would have dropped to my knees in awe for every life that has ever been. It doesn’t matter how a life plays out. What matters is life itself playing out, the incredible forms a life takes, the experiences that unfold, the openings and shifts, the heartbreak and sorrow, the passion, the engagement, the entering in, the losing oneself in the experience, the finding oneself as the entirety. All of them. One is not more important than the other. They, like life, simply are.
We find ourselves embodied. Whether we know ourselves as the Whole at play or feel ourselves to be separate this is our perfect experience. Engage life as it is, as you are. Get on the horse and ride.