Origami is a Japanese art form of folding paper to make intricate designs, without using glue to hold it together, prior markings or any cutting material. Ori which means folding; gami meaning art, has been taught in Japan for generations, passed on from parents to their children and even taught in schools. Modern origami is still a very prevalent art culture.
One particular origami design that is very popular is the Orizuru or the origami paper crane. Cranes are considered mystical holy birds in Japanese culture for they live a thousand years. A thousand orizuru strung together with strings is called a Senbazuru. According to ancient legend, the completion of a senbazuru promises a wish for eternal happiness, good luck, a long life, recovery from an illness or healing granted by the gods (the only condition being that the same person makes all of the thousand paper cranes). For the same reason, a senbazuru makes the perfect gift for a special one. That is why thousands of origami cranes are made each year (one for each year) in many countries, honouring peace and culture.
This correlates to a very interesting story of Sadako Sasaki, a small girl of two from Japan that was exposed to radiation from the atomic bombing of Hiroshima.This later made her suffer from leukaemia. That’s when she began making the senbazuru in a hope that completing it will grant a wish to save her life from the disease that was killing her. Unfortunately she could only make 644 after which she was too weak to fold and went on to pass away. Later her classmates, in her memory, completed the remaining cranes.
This is only a tale, just like a Disney movie, too good to be true. Sadako sadly died before she could fold the thousand to save her life and a million paper cranes go in vain without making wishes come true every year. Just like Santa doesn’t bring gifts on Christmas and a tooth fairy that put coins under my pillow twenty years ago simply never existed.
Have you ever been so tired that you feel tired right down to your soul? All you ever want is for a genie to magically appear to grant all of your wishes. That is exactly how I felt when I read the Japanese tale of magical wish granting cranes. So I asked myself what my wish would be if I ever did manage to make one thousand of these thingies. Without a second of doubt I knew my only wish would be to have a mind that is in control and at rest with a heart that is whole again, full of love to give to itself first.
Being on this journey of healing from emotional trauma and mental health issues, I gathered magazines and all the papers I could find in my house today. Following an origami video, I managed to fold my first origami crane, my first orizuru. It was bad honestly, my crane didn’t look anything like the one I was trying to replicate. So I made another one, then another one and finally after a few attempts I could make them without peeping on the steps. I folded 20 paper cranes. Honestly if I keep at this pace it will take me a long time to make a senbazuru and get my wish.
The origami wish might never come true, but I was so occupied in making them for the past hour and a half that my mind was at rest while my eyes were focused on something other than the harsh reality of my existential crises. At the end when I saw those birds that my hands had made from nothing but paper, I did have a smile on my face. If folding pieces of paper into shapes of a bird every single day, in a hope that in doing so my pain will go making me a whole person again one day, honestly, I might as well will do it. That hope is enough to hold onto and work for. I sit with 20 paper cranes scattered on my bed sharing this story right now and in all honesty, I am a happy girl who made her first twenty ozurus.