I didn’t know such a word existed when I had the idea for a project that would consume much of my week and weekend.
Like people around the world, I’ve been haunted by the aftermath of horror in Japan this week. Watching the deteriorating conditions was exhausting. I kept wishing there was something physical to do to help.
Fresh out of solutions to prevent multiple nuclear meltdowns and armed with the knowledge that thoughts and prayers sent skyward are probably the best things most of us can do at this point, I still felt the need to do something.
Then, I thought about 1,000 cranes — something tangible to offer to the Japanese in their time of need.
The ancient legend of senbazuru, the folding and stringing of 1,000 paper cranes, represents hope and promises recovery for people in Japan—something we could all use right about now.
To be clear, the idea of folding 1,000 cranes and the act of folding 1,000 origami cranes are two very different things.
Anyone who has ever tried their hand at origami will attest that it’s an art of precision and grace—two traits that aren’t necessarily innate to my character. Fortunately, that’s where friends come in. Friends have volunteered to help, and we’re making some headway. Slowly the caliber of our cranes is improving.
I have no illusions of our cranes reaching the Japanese level of execution, but I want the small works of art to be nice. After all, we’re sending them to experts.
Folding tiny cranes has reinforced what we’ve watched on television this week. The Japanese are the masters of orderliness and patience. Watching so many people there face the definitive crisis with such stoicism gives insight to Japanese friends who have spoken to me about frustrations they’ve felt with their culture when they’ve wanted to express individualism.
In so many ways our cultures differ.
We know how to thrive on individualism. They seem to know so much more about succeeding together.
One of my Japanese friends lives and works in Tokyo. Since the tsunami, part of her family has been living in a camp in northern Japan. She assures me that she will use her strong network of friends to take an Acadiana-created senbazuru to one of the towns obliterated by the tsunami.
We have set an ambitious goal of mailing our senbazuru to Japan by the end of this week. By the time you read this, I believe we’ll be well on our way to 1,000 paper cranes. However, the fact of the matter is that we still need lots of help to accomplish this gesture to send to the other side of the world. We are encouraging every person who makes cranes to write a message of hope on at least one of the creations. I’m also taking photos of folks as they make cranes, which I plan to send along with the senbazuru.
Our gesture will do nothing to fix the horrible situation of northeastern Japan, but simple acts of kindness can change things by creating waves of good.
If you’d like to try your hand at making some, please do. It just takes a little practice. If you’d like to make cranes to be included in the senbazuru we’re sending to Japan, simply e-mail me.
In Japan, cranes are mystical creatures. A thousand of them represent hope, and Japan, along with the rest of us, could use a little hope about now.