I gained my freedom in early summer, just as the double-flowered cherry tree was shedding its last blossoms and starting to show the first faint signs of new green leaves. Like a songbird flown from its cage, I surveyed the world around me and reveled in my new-found freedom. I went at once to see Sensei. Along the way, my eyes were drawn to new buds bursting from the dark branches of a hedge. I also noticed shiny dull-brown leaves budding from a weathered pomegranate trunk, softly reflecting the warm sunlight. Never before had such things enchanted me so.
Sensei saw the joy in my face. "You finished your thesis, I take it. Well done."
"I did, thanks to your assistance. Everything's done."
I had, in fact, dispensed with all of my responsibilities. I felt relieved. From this point forward, I was free to flaunt my leisure. I was confident in the thesis I'd written, and satisfied with my effort. I couldn't refrain from explaining the work at length. Sensei humored me but offered no comment or critique beyond his usual subdued responses. I didn't feel dissatisfied, but I did feel a bit deflated. Even so, I was too full of life on this day to let his detachment go unchallenged. I decided to invite him outside, to witness the great rebirth - all of nature adorning itself in green.
"Sensei, let's go for a walk. It's wonderful out."
It didn't matter to me where we went. I simply wanted to stroll through nature with Sensei.