Talk to me #6: Mark Sakamoto

Apr 15, 2016 by

Talk to me #6: Mark Sakamoto

Where you learned to love. Where do any of us learn to love? Not one single place, I suppose. But rather an aggregate of experiences that commence as soon as you draw your first breath. The quality of those first loving relationships have a profound impact on our tendencies, behaviors and attitudes towards love. To be born into a truly loving environment—one full of unconditional love— is a blessing. It is the single most important determinant of our life’s trajectory, and it is a total crapshoot.

Your first cut – was it the deepest? My mom was terrific. She was a real firecracker. Diane Sakamoto weighed 104 lbs, but she kept her two boys in line with the might and fury of a drill sergeant. She did not suffer fools gladly. She did not suffer them at all. And there were a lot of fools in our small prairie town. She never let us whine. She had a light to her—a hard light—like when a match is struck. She was the best. Then, she got sick. She died of alcoholism. It was brutal. My mom introduced me to love. And, when she left me, it was the first cut and it was the deepest. I have the scars to prove it.

Your love who got away. The first girl I ever kissed was named—I kid you not—Stephanie Kiss. It was in her back yard, between her fence and her bushes. It was a short kiss. I tasted her raspberry lip gloss. It was glorious. Two weeks later, she left. Her family moved to Estevan, Saskatchewan. This little story does not constitute love getting away, but I sure wanted more time with Ms. Kiss in her backyard.

Your “type” – and why. For me, it’s all about the eyes. You can feel someone’s soul by looking into their eyes. I recommend staring. When Jade was thirteen, she moved to Medicine Hat. Her locker was five down from mine. Her first day of school, she closed her locker door and looked at me. Her eyes. My God. I could feel her warmth, her kindness. I knew she was an artist before I said a word to her. So, Jade is my type. She’s really all I’ve ever known. I hope her eyes are the last thing I see when I close mine.

Your favourite literary romance. For me, it’s not even close. Norwegian Wood by the great Haruki Murakami.

Your thoughts on friends being lovers. Your lover better be your friend. Your life partner better be your best friend.

Your thoughts on the net amounts of pleasure and pain. One should welcome pain. I know, easier said than done. Pain has a wonderful side effect. It allows you to more deeply and thoroughly enjoy pleasure. I have never wanted a bubble gum life. I want to cry, like really cry: blinded, nose running, heaving cries. Did you assume that I was describing a sad cry?

Your story about unrequited love. I’m grateful to report: N/A.

Your favourite author/artist on love. Rumi knew love cold. Case in point:
I want to see you.
Know your voice.
Recognize you when you first come ’round the corner.
Sense your scent when I come into a room you’ve just left.
 Know the lift of your heel, the glide of your foot.
Become familiar with the way you purse your lips,
then let them part,
just the slightest bit,
when I lean in to your space,
and kiss you.
I want to know the joy of how you whisper

Your reconciliation of the domestic and the erotic. I don’t agree with the premise of this question. Move bedtime up an hour and swoon and sigh and exhale with your partner.

Your thoughts on marriage. Marriage is a human relationship. Expect ups and downs. Do not, under any circumstances, buy in to your Facebook feed. Life ain’t all likes and emoji smiley faces. When did we come to expect that? When I see friends split, the reasons often seem so impermanent. So trivial. If there is love in your marriage, fight for it every day. But, if there is not, and your partner harms, belittles, and betrays the essence of love. Leave. Do not look back.

Love changes when you have children. You come to understand a very important aspect about love when you have children. Love spans space and time. Love is generational. Your essence survives in another heart. Children bring you to the understanding that you are in a stream of love that was there before you and will exist long after you. You come to know that it is your job—like every generation before you—to nurture your family during your time. Protect it. Enjoy it while you can. Pass it on to your kids so they can pass it on to their kids and so the stream flows.

Your thoughts on resisting temptation. Temptation abounds, doesn’t it? It is usually fleeting and insignificant. If it is not, you should deeply ponder why. Is there something fundamental missing in your life? You have to listen to your heart. You have to trust your gut. We all have, alas, but one kick at this can. On the empty, fleeting stuff, the late Nancy Reagan had a good line: just say no.

Your advice on breaking up. Honesty and transparency are the two keys to healthy human interactions. If you are leaving, lay it out straight. Express how you feel. Own how you feel. If you have been left, and your partner is offering you the respect to tell you the truth: be thankful. Move on.

The influence of love on your work. Kahlil Gibran wrote, work is love made visible. I just love that line. If you have been thoughtful about how you approach your vocation, this is likely how you feel about your workday. In the event that you do not feel this way, I would encourage you to change that as soon as you possibly can.

Your lessons from love. Love is a virtuous circle. It is pretty simple: give more, get more. So, do yourself a favour and flex that muscle more often. Always have a moment for a kind word. Always have another seat at your dinner table. There is no limit to the amount of folks you can allow into your heart. Know that fact fully and completely.

Your greatest regret in love. Regret seems too small a word for how badly I wish my Mom could have mustered the strength in her loving heart to see a path out of her illness. I wish she could have fought her way to sobriety. I wish she were here to hold my two daughters. Oh, how she would have adored them. She just couldn’t get there.

Your thoughts on infidelity – one night stand, fling, or affair. Don’t do it. Life is complicated enough.

Your feelings about the existence of a soulmate. They exist. In many forms. I have a business partner. He is a soulmate of sorts. We speak in grunts and half-spoken words. Nobody knows what the hell we are talking about, but we can unpack an entire paragraph or the next move in a few short words. I have siblings. They are part of me in ways that nobody else is. I am writing this on a plane to meet my brother Daniel. I feel like I am going to see a part of me. I have Jade. All other facts in my life pale by comparison.

Your ideal love: madness or redemption? Love is the one redeeming force in our world. Cling to it like a raft. The only thing that is permanent is what you put in your heart and in your head. Everything else is fleeting. Everything else can be taken away at a moment’s notice.

Your advice on making love last. Laugh. My God, laugh your ass off. Laughter will get you through the periods when the dark clouds roll in. It’ll make the dawn brighter. Grow. The only constant is change. Allow your partner the space to expand and surprise you. Embrace new challenges, interests and passions. Do yoga together. Seriously, do yoga together. Have sex. Have as much as is reasonable in the circumstances of your life.

Learn more about Mark on his website here.

 Mark Sakamoto is the author of the bestselling memoir Forgiveness: A Gift from My Grandparents, a successful entrepreneur and a daddy to two young daughters. 

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