It's About Time
Treasures deserve everyday use
Enjoy what you have while you still have it.
I recently finished reading the book "Endure," by Toshiko Shoji Ito, a novel based on the real-life experiences of Japanese Americans in Seattle during World War II. It tells of their forced evacuation to Minidoka, Idaho, one of 10 relocation camps to which Japanese who lived on the West Coast were exiled.
It's the story of Tomi, a 17-year-old teenager who was living a carefree life in Seattle until the bombing of Pearl Harbor. After President Franklin Roosevelt's signing of Executive Order 9066, the Japanese Americans were given two weeks' notice to evacuate their homes.
It was a book I couldn't put down as (1) the story was set in Seattle, where I grew up, and (2) my family was among the more than 100,000 Japanese who were interned.
I was about 13 years old when I first learned of the relocation camps. I vaguely knew that my family had been interned at Heart Mountain, Wyo., but that was a topic of which my parents and others of that generation did not speak.
I remember going to my mother and saying, "How could you have gone? I wouldn't have gone. I would have told them, 'I'm an American citizen - you can't do this to me!'" But the truth is, at that time the Japanese had no power and no choice but to obey.
Each person was allowed to take only one suitcase and whatever could be carried. They did not know where they were going or how long they would be away. I could feel their panic, fear and stress in dealing with practical issues of what to do with their furniture, treasures and even businesses. What they couldn't sell, they had to abandon.
While I don't foresee being subjected to another mass exile, there are other ways that people can be stripped of possessions - through hurricanes, earthquakes or floods.
One lesson I gained from the book is to really use and enjoy what I have while I have it, not to save things for "good."
This was the conclusion of an 83-year-old woman in a letter to her friend. She wrote, "I'm not saving anything; we use our good china and crystal for every special event such as losing a pound, getting the sink unstopped or the first amaryllis blossom. I'm not saving my good perfume for special parties, but wearing it for clerks in the hardware store and tellers at the bank."
I, too, have stopped saving things for "good" or special events. At home I'm dressing up a notch from my "boroboro" comfortable-but-raggedy clothes to something presentable. After all, isn't it better that I enjoy wearing my nicer clothes rather than letting them sit in the closet?
In cleaning out the bathroom vanity, I found some "good" toiletries (body creams and soaps) that I've decided to use every day.
What do you have that you've been saving for "good"? I encourage you to use and enjoy what you have now. Why wait?
See you in three weeks!
Ruth Wong owns Organization Plus. Contact her care of the Honolulu Star-Bulletin, 7 Waterfront Plaza, Suite 210, Honolulu 96813, call 488-0288 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org