A Voyage to Aomori, Part 5 of 5
There are those who claim that happiness has nothing to do with your circumstances, and everything to do with how you choose to respond to them. Such people seem quite numerous nowadays; whether more so than in the past I cannot say.
They are fools.
One does not simply choose to be happy. External circumstances matter. We have created societies that systematically break people. How callous, or plain ignorant, does a person have to be to expect anyone to accept and adapt to a world like that?
And yet, there are places our madness has not yet reached. Places free of arrogance, cruelty, poverty, gender or greed. Places that were there before us and will be there long after us. Places beautiful before anyone was around to corrupt the concept of beauty – a primordial beauty, one we cannot define but know at once when we see it, as though by an instinct as old as love itself.
It was a pain that should not have existed, brought on by the failure of human society, that drove me to Aomori in the distant north of Japan in search of respite. And on my final day there, I found one of the most formidable such places of beauty that I have ever known. It was unexpected – not part of the original plan. And it was guarded by some of the toughest combinations of weather and terrain I have yet encountered.
|A location where big explosions once happened bigly.|
But it was necessary. It was right. For the winds, the rocks, the trees, the skies, no matter how fierce, how rugged, how sharp, how cold, are not mad. Never have they hurt out of malice. They exclude and alienate no-one; all are welcome in their realm. Unlike society's, their conditions are fair. I could accept them with no hesitation. And in return for what they take, they give a thousandfold.
They give better external circumstances. Beautiful circumstances. Circumstances, if not for happiness, then at least for something magical and profound; something which speaks to your humanity at a level our shallow materialist individualisms no longer bother with.
The Hakkōda Snow March Disaster
Make no mistake, that does not mean the Hakkoda Mountains will not kill you if you do not approach them with care. The Aomori Fifth Infantry Regiment, a unit of the Eighth Division of the Imperial Japanese Army, learnt this in supremely miserable fashion back in the New Year of 1902.