Budo/Martial Arts

Back to Japan

I’m back!

What a trip.

Beloved family. Friends as close as family. Showing my origins to the girl of my life. Exploring the lakes and forests and mountains and towns of my youth.

Shooting bows and arrows and drinking beer around a campfire with fellow dojo rats. (Maybe a picture or two will show up soon).

After that giant whirlwind of a little less than two weeks, just when I was getting used to it again, I found myself again flying in a gargantuan machine across the sea. Now I’m back in Japan, and it’s very strange. I find myself falling back into the unconscious steps I’ve made hundreds of times before, but my mind is off. A lot of stereotypical complaints about Japan are coming up for the first time in years: so many people, cold interactions, staring at foreigners, students not speaking English in class. But then I guess it was the same when I arrived on American soil for the first time in a year and a half. Giant people in the shape of bugs, carrying Starbucks coffees the size of my carry-on. People standing in the way of everything shouting at each other through phones.

These are all generalizations of course, but with the immediate shift of realities this is what I see.

We find the weirdest times to look on the brightside of things. Now that I’m back, I’m in awe of the beauty of that home where I was raised. It’s the most beautiful place I’ve ever seen. Each dear friend has an individual world and style of their own. People live for a high quality of life. And I have the best family in the world.

But now I’m back in Japan. I feel as though I’ve changed a great deal, but this place is the same. The day I returned Japan was experiencing record high temperatures, about 105 degrees fahrenheit and super humid. For the past couple days it’s cooled down and enormous amounts of rain have poured from the heavens. Now the pavement reeks of birdshit, dropped by the masses of crows.

I’m back, and nothing has changed.

Why is that? I’ve had this great break and all of the epiphanies, and yet this unchanged world is pulling me, dragging me back down to where I was. I can actually feel myself slipping back into the cracks far below. What the hell? I’ve changed!

Why? Why is my mind reverting back to the cave?

Things are amiss, and it’s time to get hands-on.

But not without relaxing, and giving each moment the mind deserved. That’s what I saw at home.

I love stepping back and looking at it all from afar. I love the great patterns and realizations . I like planning and getting motivated to begin. When we escape our patterns we can better evaluate what is important and what’s not. This is the real beauty of a vacation. We all really do need vacations.

Looking at myself in Japan, it seems to have lost a lot of color. Going through my life without thinking or passion. Sure I’m thinking, but it’s way too much, obsessed. Sure I’ve been in rage, but that’s not passion, just confusion. I’ve just been putting my body through motions to satsify the Plan.

So being home, I’ve realized a few things.

The first big realization was that I’m trying to do way too much here.

Two years ago when I decided to stay in Japan, moved to Toyama City and started working for my current job, I decided to do everything I wanted. Since then I’ve been planning and running and building and amassing.

Now I’m living with a 20 headed monster in my tiny apartment.

I have to remember, this is what I wanted.

I thought that I would build it all up, see what happens, and move.

But I haven’t been able to see. I’ve just been overwhelmed and consumed. Instead of focusing on one at a time, I’ve been scattered between them all, they have become terrifying and impossible.

Basically, I can’t do it all.

I suppose a big part of it is in the mind. By just changing my perspective and not wasting thoughts in unneccessary places, I can save a lot of time. And yet, it’s not enough, because I’m doing too much.

Something has to die.

Surveying my activities, I find that a lot of it is really not what I want, or at least, not like this.

I love many things about Toyama Prefecture, mostly the mountains and small towns, but I don’t like living in Toyama City. I don’t like my apartment. Aikido is fucked because I do it at such a rate it’s just a tease. I’m battling through kyudo with scar tissue in my thumb. My Japanese study is slow and numb. I’m tired of my job and want to try something new. I want to write more.

I want to write more. I’m finding good places in my head and a small forest path is opening. I want to go down there as far as I desire.

I want to get better at Japanese. I’ve been here long enough, I’ve had the resources, I’ve reached a certain level, but it’s not enough. This is something that won’t grow without focused effort. That is another place I want to put my time.

As for martial arts, I believe they are necessary for me, like some food I need to survive. However, it is not the main focus of my life, and never will be. It is necessary, but not dominant. So I will treat it as such. Martial arts are my spiritual food, training my body and concentration, making me happy, allowing me to adventure in the world and introducing me to amazing people. But I believe it will be the Japanese language and writing that will carry me into the future.

This is what I feel right now.

Writing is a honing of the mind, complete freedom, indulgence in the imagination. It is indeed much mightier than the sword, and I feel like I belong with the pen.

So I will make martial arts small, like a whisper, like a wonderful meal. It is my great training, but really just a part of the whole.

Now, I’m carefully stepping through my life, looking at it all, feeling, and then deciding how to move. I will gently unravel this knot I’ve created, plan for the move to Kyushu that will happen as soon as winter. We’ll see how it goes. This is the new plan.

Thank you America, but it’s not just that. Thank you home. But more so, thank you people, family, friends and unknowns. Thank you universe, for giving healthy doses of hope and despair in necessary quantities.

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