A visit to the book store

I was in the book store today, and I really started looking for a book I might be able to read…

I saw one that seemed to be labeled as a part of Japan’s zero tolerance for bullying campaign. Thinking that was relevant to my work as a teacher I picked it up…I was surprised at how well I could understand the story through the first few pages. It was about a 15 year old girl who had dreams to be a scuba diver, and have a nice family of her own. Of course aspiring to have a home and husband is either pervasive (or for some weird reason one of the few topics I can understand, hence pervasive) in literature targeted at females in Japan. It was written for young adults. Then I decide to translate the title (which I could not read before opening the book) and it was something to the effect of, “My Suicide Note.”

I instantly didn’t want that sort of book to be the first full length work that I purchased. I put it down and walked away.

All is. All is.

Sometimes, the sunset pulls me out of my idle moments and causes me to run. Run to a better place to have a view. Run before it’s gone. Run to feel the cold air on my cheeks.

It’s way too often I get paralyzed. I see the sunset, and I appreciate it for but a moment before turning back to my habitual anodynes. Today, I am grateful for the sunset and the sun rise. I am grateful for the great bowl of a valley that I live in that is bordered by jagged gateways ascending ever upwards towards the sky. I am grateful to the volcanoes and the cranes. The roses in full bloom beside the late autumn harvests. The rough boughs of the persimmon trees bountiful with great orange fruits. I can feel the cold promise of snow, in the air. I can see my breath floating upwards. And I want to say all is well.

All is well.

All is well.

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All is…so intensely beautiful even amongst the flickering of other issues.

The hardest way (一番難しいやり方)

私はいつも物事を一番難しいやり方でやって見たいです。しかし、それはいたずらな趣味です。もし、一番難しいを方法のみで挑戦したら、すぐ疲れるでしょう。それで、一番効果的な練習方法ができないでしょう。

圧倒的な感じがあったら何も学べません。

早く上達したいなら、ゆっくりとしたほうがいいです。

いつ、激しいく練習したらいいですか。

基本的なことが気にならなくなったところで激しい練習をするといいです。

I always want to try the hardest way of doing things. However, that is a vain action. If you only try to challenge the most difficult way of doing things, you will quickly become tired. Then, you can’t do the most effective method. If you feel overwhelmed, you can’t learn anything. If you want to improve quickly, it’ good to go slowly.

When is it OK to practice harder? Once you do not mind the basics, you can practice harder.

A letter from the past

The other day, I received a letter written by the 16 year old me in the mail. (Thank’s high school English teacher! You are amazing!) If I had to write back to myself, I would write two words, “Write more.”

All that aside, the day that we wrote these letters, we were asked to list some goals for life.

Mine included:

1. A gold medal in the Olympics for archery.

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2. Open up “Kick-Ats Coffee” (Basically my dream coffee shop)

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3. Complete school

4.Stay Healthy

5. Gain some proper companions.

6. Fluency in Japanese.

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Well, 16 year old me…We graduated from college, we seem to be pretty healthy, and we seem to have some nice real life friends, even if we do need to put a little more work in on our end with communicating with them! I’m living in Japan right now, and getting ready to test for JLPT N3, we are by absolutely no means fluent, but we’re on the path…You got to visit Japan right after graduating from High School, and were ridiculously obsessed with the idea of getting back there. Once you dropped out of college, you completely forgot that dream…you know, because you need a degree to get a visa to go to live and work in Japan. So, you remember that time you memorized about 500 Kanji? Well, we’re re-hashing all of those, but it’s “easier” this time. It’s funny how you forgot that dream, and the coincidence of returning to Japan was a consequence of that SCIENCE degree that you took on to make it easier to get a job out of college doing NOTHING for your employment search in the US which consequentially caused you to REMEMBER a forgotten dream of entering the English teaching workforce…(and realize some other plans to keep you in for the long run.)

In University, you were on the varsity archery team. You didn’t do all that great. It’s ok, I forgive you. However, now you can casually pull out a bow and get a damn good grouping of arrows, so if we want to try for that gold medal at some point, it could be possible with some elbow grease.

As for the coffee shop…that might happen and it might not…You worked at one of your FAVORITE coffee shops right after college, and got a good taste for the work that would go into running a place…

OK that’s all for now. Cheerio.

Straddling the Divides

It’s now past 3 AM and the moon is a red-rust sliver, concealed by clouds as it washes away with the remainder of the month. I step off of my jet black road bike for just a few seconds in the center of a Bridge crossing the Abukuma river just to let my mind rest, my senses refresh. I need to soak in the fact that Orion is in hunting pose and stare off into the unilluminated mountain lined river corridor. I need to listen to the resounding thunder of frogs and insects before I turn in for the night. As I begin to peddle again, the traffic picks up and a rush of trucks trek past.

The red temperature marquee flashes 13˚C and I have to believe that there is no better feeling than this one of straddling my bicycle as I straddle the seasons on the border of night and day. At night time the wind combs my hair and clears my mind. As I reach home, I pass contently into sleep as soon as my head hits the pillow.GGIMG_8275rss

In the morning, the slight chill raises an ordinary cup of coffee to an extraordinary space of ritual. And as the sun sets again in vivid shades of purple, and pink I can cook with Kabocha squash, figs, cinnamon, and graham masala. This is the season I was born into.

I think part of my contentment has come as, I’ve watched my mind set shift. For once in my life, I don’t have itchy feet the same way that I did before. I might want to live one town over from where I am right now, but I don’t need to trek to another country or find a different or better city. The reason why, I’m not sure I can pin down. Maybe I’ve invested a lot in coming to this place, and I’m just now getting to the point where I feel brave enough to explore the local businesses. Maybe it’s because I know that places always become the most amazing when you are about to leave, and I am striking a satisfactory balance between living as if I’m leaving tomorrow and planning for the future. It feels as if I have decided that I want to settle in here for a while. That currently, my home brings great joy. That somehow, I know I am slowly learning to get by despite the infinite number of times I might be failing in very routine situations.

朝3時過ぎた。空にさび色のえんげつは雲で洗う。阿武隈川の橋でロードバイクを止まれ。蛙の鳴くを聞いたり、思いをクリアする。

立て札によって13度になった。今、春と冬を跨る。夜と朝もう跨る。この気持ちぐらいより良い気持ちはない。

I think I love my experiences with Japanese kissaten so much more than American coffee shops. I’m also very happy to say that I found one where I can both passably read the menu and understand everything that the waitress said to me! The most amusing thing to me was the gender divide. Non smoking seats were occupied by women while the smoking section was filled by men.

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日本の喫茶店のほうが、アメリカンのコーヒーショップより好きだと思う。やっと、ほかの良い所を見つけました。メニューが読めるとかウェイトレスの話しが分かれました!面白いことは男女格差でした。例えば、女性は禁煙席に座ったと共に男性は喫煙席に座った。

Naminori – Wave riding

The sky is an infinite grey, rain plodding down into the gentle surf of the pacific ocean. And here I am less than 60 kilometers north of the Daiichi Nuclear Power Station, contemplating becoming a thing which is thrown by the ocean.  Three years ago, I would never have expected this. Yesterday morning, I never would have expected this, but life has a lovely way of unfolding. Not more than a few hundred meters from me, there is still evidence of damage to infrastructure from the Tsunami and Quake.

Last Saturday, I had a dream that I was on the Oceanside, when off in the distance a great storm reared up. Cumulonimbus clouds, like panthers padding across the sky. Some people were running to the ocean, but I chose to run towards shore, except now I was on a sandbar between two bodies of water, and as I crossed large waves were rising. I get across somehow, but I was being presented with pictures of the shoes that were on children’s feet who drowned attempting to cross that very body of water.

With that image in mind, I am suited up in a red wet suit clinging to a surf board, and I don’t feel a bit of the rain. That is, I don’t mind, it’s one in the same with the waves, one in the same with me. Except for the fact that I am small and though I am mostly made of water, my consciousness tends only to truly occupy the hydrophobic skin sack I call body. I have never surfed before, and I haven’t been in the ocean in years. To put it in Aikido words, I am Uke -the reciever- (受け) and the ocean is Nage -the thrower- (投げ). How I loved what spirit and energy my partners would place into their throws, and the fluidity in which I could fall, roll out and stand up and have another go. I contemplate the idea that one might never be Nage because though we might seem centered the forces that come at us are always incredibly powerful and we must learn the best way to be thrown by them.

After I’ve gulped down torrents of seawater and faced a number of waves, My friend turns my board around and pushes me into a wave. As the wave throws my board, I stand up and ride the white water back towards shore.