Japanese Wisdom in Action
Fall down seven times, get up eight
The first time I heard this quote was when watching TV. It appeared on a poster in a character’s bedroom during a flashback scene in the TV show Orange is the New Black.
The phrase struck a chord with me.
I liked the imagery of the strength that it takes to physically get up off the ground after falling down. And in turn, it makes for a good metaphor when we are knocked around emotionally and have the strength to move past it.
Recently I experienced first-hand the wisdom of this quote.
It followed a day when I was having a big whinge about life. My life is very good. I know. But at the time I was feeling the combination of a weight of issues fall on me. Succumbing to the pressure, I had a whinge about it.
I felt sorry for myself. Throwing myself a lonely little pity party.
The next day, I was walking down the stairs at work and all of a sudden it struck me.
The fact I feel low right now is ok, it is what I do next that will make the most difference.
Sure, I could stay in a sorry state, feeling emotional and drained as a result. But really, it is time to get over it and get on with it.
Applying the Wisdom to My Life
The quote, “fall down seven times, get up eight” came back to me. This was the time for me to put this wisdom into action.
I am the master of my thoughts. I will not be mastered by them.
Instead, I chose to focus on the good that is around me, and within. There is a lot.
Remembering this quote, I decided to do a little research on it to find its origin.
I was surprised to find that it is a Japanese proverb. The original wording is: “nana korobi ya oki”, which translates to: “seven falls, eight getting up”.
My Japanese Experience
Earlier this year I was fortunate enough to be in Japan. It was a life-long dream to go there. For the last few years I have spoken with my husband about traveling to Japan. This year we finally made it.
It was a wonderful trip.
The people are polite, respectful and helpful. The food is flavorsome and delicious. The cities are clean. I felt safe wandering around. Especially in Kyoto.
Kyoto is one city where you do want to walk down a dark alley and see what you can find. There’s no other city in the world where I would actively seek out dark alleyways.
There is one street in Kyoto where you do need to be careful though…
It is called Ninen-zaka, and is a beautiful lane filled with gift shops, coffee shops and traditional, yet modern, architecture. There is a starbucks too. The first starbucks I’ve even been to where you can sit on tatami mats to enjoy your brew. I chose a sakura, or cherry blossom, latte.
In this lane, there is a myth that if you fall down here you will die within two years.
My husband, friends and I walked the street three times, and I am pleased to say we traversed the stone steps and walkway incident-free each time.
The Lesson of this Wisdom
What does all this have to do with the wisdom of falling down seven times and getting back up eight?
For me the connection is that when walking along Ninen-zaka, you can pay close attention to how you walk, to avoid an unwanted early demise.
But if you do that, you risk not appreciating the beauty of the street. The detailed architecture, the colorful gifts in the storefront windows, the friendly, but shy smiles of the locals as you pass by.
Rather than focusing on the negative state I was in, I chose to bounce back. It was time to get back up.
I want to live life confidently, not let it pass me by. I want to appreciate the good that is around me.
There is a lot to be grateful for.
What are you most grateful for in your life?