What’re You Made Of?

I keep thinking to myself, “it’s probably just a matter of time before I really get it.”

Japan. Where the background music is in English, but nobody can understand it. The land of the rising sun. Where any amount of time I spend trying to get to know it feels like it’s not enough. There’s just so much to it. It’s a whole ‘nother world.

For my last post I decided to put to paper my deepest feelings about the struggles of moving here. It’s been a journey of discovery. About the world and about myself. And it’s certainly been a struggle. Some days feel like I’m in some kind of exotic theme park, while others feel like there’s an impenetrable barrier between myself and everyone else. And those other days can really break you down. But it takes some breaking down to see what you’re really made of.

The move to northern Japan went relatively smoothly, but going from a comfortable western-friendly city lifestyle to being dropped in the thick of rural Japanese culture has been a huge shock. Another bout of culture shock. I feel I’m closer to the core of Japanese culture, but there’s still so much I don’t understand. And it doesn’t help that the accent is so different here. But to be fair, I was warned about this before I came here. Japanese friends told me they couldn’t understand anyone out here, even though they’re still speaking Japanese. I feel like I’m in the Newfoundland of Japan. (Canny a word adem Newfies.)

Everyday it’s as though I’m sent down the rapids to navigate through my day. It’s a bumpy ride, and I have no idea what’s going on on a daily basis, but whatever it is, it’s happening regardless, so son-of-a-bitch, I’m in. I’ll figure it out eventually. Hopefully.
But even if I don’t, I’m at least enjoying myself. Picking up whatever responsibility I can, trying to learn and do my best.

I keep thinking to myself, “it’s probably just a matter of time before I really get it.” But how long do I have? And how long does culture shock last? Until I fully integrate with this new place I find myself in? Can I really do that? It’s all so different here, compared to back home in Canada. Part of the same world, yet somehow worlds apart.

I don’t know the answers to these questions. I feel like I’m missing something. I find myself feeling nostalgic for old Canadian things I used to use, eat, watch, experience. Maybe I’m finally homesick.

Sometimes it’s hard not to just feel like I’m some kind of spectacle out here. Allow me to paint the scene: I walk into class. Emphatic surprised noises echo amongst the students. The Japanese teacher says something along the lines of, “BEHOLD! as I attempt to communicate with this foreigner.” And there I stand, trying not to embarrass myself (too much), trying to speak in this strange balancing act of actual English and something they might understand.

But those everyday struggles, – the simple things that wouldn’t even cross your mind back home – they feel like big accomplishments when you don’t know the language or the customs or the rules. Somehow something so small begins to feel so big. Baby steps, I suppose. Even if you fall flat on your face every time, at least you’re getting somewhere. Getting through those everyday struggles, breaking down, and rebuilding yourself – that’s when you start to find out. What’re you made of? Something that sinks? Or something that can swim? Maybe you’re someone who can tread water after all.

It’s Been a While

Anything worth doing is worth doing now.

Life happens. Everyone seems to only get busier with it. Time flies by faster and faster. Suddenly you look back and another couple of years just went by. What even happened?

I haven’t been writing as much as I’d like to. I’ve been telling myself that I’ll eventually find the time, but I only discover more and more that I have to make the time. And to be honest, there are a lot of things in my life I have taken this viewpoint on. Procrastination sure is a big problem, isn’t it? Being a perfectionist doesn’t help. I feel the need to wait until I have gathered all information I possibly can and taken everything into consideration. On the surface this seems rational, but if we actually look at it rationally, you just can’t possibly have all of the information, let alone have taken everything into consideration. What usually happens is that you wait, and wait, until you have no other choice but to act (and you generally just make a split-second decision, anyway). Deadlines used to help me do this, but with my own blog I can make my own deadlines (which, in the past, has meant I don’t have any deadlines – oops). So where does that leave us? It seems to me a good solution to act when you have a good grasp of the situation. Identifying that point may be its own problem, but taking this all into consideration should help. There comes a time in life when you have to just act. I’ve come to realize my life is something I have to actively mold into what I want. Every day is a choice. And the only place to begin is now; because here is where we are. So I’d like to start up my blog again. I’d like to share more of what I’ve worked on over the years. Maybe I’ll even end up sharing some poetry.

This year will be the beginning of a whole new adventure – a brand new chapter in my life. I’m moving to Asia. Will I be able to keep up with my blog? I hope so. I suspect part of it will get a lot more personal as I experience new places, people, and cultures; and wish to share those experiences. I still intend to finish the posts I was preparing previously, but the initial purpose of this whole project was for me to write about whatever I wanted to write about; and I will stay true to that.

On that note, I have also been researching a few other topics that interest me and I will be rearranging the list of things I want to cover on this blog. Why are mental health issues rising at an alarming rate in our society? Why do we seem so divided? What, if anything, can we do to fix this mess we find ourselves in? These are a few of the questions I’ve been asking, and I’ve come across some very compelling answers.

New technologies have given us access to a plethora of information – so much, in fact, that it would be impossible for a single person to ever take it all in within their lifetime. I don’t claim to have all of the answers. Anyone who does should not be trusted. But I would like to do my part by focusing on and making sense of what interests me.