On discovering America


I think there’s a deeper lesson to be learned from this article about why the Japanese – an advanced, seafaring nation – didn’t discover America. First, let me summarize the key points: The Japanese had everything they wanted, right there on their little archipelago, and what they didn’t have they could obtain from China or Korea, so there was no need to hit the high seas. And what were the Europeans doing when they “discovered” America? Searching for a shortcut to Asia so they could bring back spices. Asia was it, the place to be in the world of commerce.

I can’t help but picture a 15th-century Japanese man swinging his fist and saying, “aw shucks!” because let’s face it, America turned out to be a pretty big win.

And I also can’t help but think that on a much, much smaller scale, this little drama plays out over and over again in each of our lives. When we are  comfortable—when we have all the saffron a decent person needs—we stay home. Worlds go uncharted, seas go un-sailed. Make no mistake: There is something to be said for staying put, for raking zen gardens and tending our hearts like perfect bonsai trees, but to do so requires intention. I hope that I can learn to relish days that taste a little dull because they will send me in search of better salt.

2 thoughts on “On discovering America

  1. Pingback: Into the fire |

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