It’s not necessarily about what you’re born with as it is how much time you have with your distinctive talents and passions.

When you’re a high-profile figure, it’s kind of expected that whatever you do or say is carefully scrutinized and recorded by the media as well as the public. In the case of the former empress of Japan, a recent publication has collected her most memorable quotes during her 61 years as both Crowned Princess and Empress of Japan. But one particular quote the book has recorded struck a poignant, touching chord with Japanese netizens.

▼ While the Imperial Family has no jurisdiction over legislation in Japan, their image remains popular among both residents of Japan and folks overseas.

From composing traditional Japanese poetry, admiring Irish culture, and reading classical British stories, empress emerita Michiko has a variety of interests. However, one passion that has remained close to her heart is the piano.

To no surprise, the recent publication has a plethora of quotes related to former empress Michiko’s love for the musical instrument. One comment in particular, on the decline of her ability to play the piano, has left a soul-deep impression on Japanese netizens:

“What one is able to do is a given blessing, and when one becomes unable, the blessing is then returned.”

▼ Though the former empress says her piano-playing isn’t what it used to be, her recent performances are effused with tender elegance, as seen in the video below.

When it comes to any type of creative activity, whether it’s playing an instrument, drawing manga, or underwater basket weaving, everyone has their own experience, pace, and skill level. However, regardless of if your craft is your livelihood or if you’re a hobbyist, the eventual wane of one’s abilities is a possibility to consider, whether due to age, disability, or simply loss of interest.

The former empress’s quote stresses the value of gratitude for this potential of evanescence. Taking a closer look at the wording, the original Japanese phrasing for “returned” is “okaeshi,” or a return gift which a receiver of a gift gives to the original sender as a sign of appreciation and thanks. In this sense, one interpretation of the empress emerita’s words is that they highlight how our creative pursuits and passions are a blessing raised within us, and even if they were to decline, we still return the boons of our distinctive talents to the world through the work we create and leave behind.

Japanese netizens on Twitter expressed awe as the quote made the rounds on social media:

“I’m so deeply moved and grateful that I’ve learned this kind of perspective.”
“Wow, that made me really reflect on myself. I want to be more humble from now on.”
“Your Majesty, please consider hosting a Twitter account that posts such lovely things everyday.”
“This isn’t just some advice from a person with more life experience, but something that’s been refined and thought out. I’ll treasure what I’ve learned for sure.”
“The way she words it is making me teary-eyed.”

Regardless of one’s individual views on the nuances of artistic ability, her words definitely have a sensibility that capture the transient, intertwined nature of creativity and human life. After all, sometimes it’s not about rushing out a finished product as it is just kicking back and enjoying the art you make now. Better yet, kick back extra hard and create if you can do it at a place fit for Japan’s imperial family..

Source: Twitter via Hachima Kiko
Top image: Wikipedia/kanegen
Insert image: Wikipedia/Ministry of Foreign Affairs of Japan
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