The Emperor’s Katana – Lessons from the master craftsman

“ignis aurum probat, miseria fortes homines”, “as gold is tempered by fire, so strong men are tempered by suffering”.


He took the metal, valuable and unique, and laid it in the fire. With an innate passion watching it, until the hue was just right, the color of heat, moving as storm cloud over the plain of the metal. Lightning strikes and thunder claps induced by his worn sledge shouted changes to nature, destroying the original form. In a violent move, calling out the tempest, he plunged it into the muddy water, clouded with ash and clay, a chaotic mix of elements, ugly in their application, wondrous in their result. Angry steam rose, the steel yelling at the breaking of its will, a will formed by nature, broken by the same. Fire and water, opposites, yet being used together to create a new thing, taking their turns as catalysts, creating beauty and power unsurpassed by the ordinary, waiting for their turn in the flames. Thousands of times, the process, the rhythm of breaking down, bending, melding, heating, were repeated, shocking it, breaking it from the apathetic staleness of commonality. The old man smiled and, in his careful hands, the metal changed, growing finer in composition, growing closer to its’ polished destiny as the Emperor’s Katana.

Accepting the opposites in my life, the fire and water of pain and joy, allows me transformation. My life changed by them from an ordinary, dull life of discord, into a life of gleaming beauty, purpose, and fulfillment. The trials, the pain, the joys and successes, I will let them have their way, not fighting what will bring me to completion. My destiny, wholly original and amazing, a rare and exquisite life, being declared as the Emperor’s Katana.

Also published in Broowaha Magazine