Friday, March 30, 2012

First post-move post: reflection

Hello all,

I've been away from writing on here for a while. I was sick with a cold that put me out for two weeks, followed by a sinus infection that put me out for another, and then I had to get ready to move across country, and then move across country, and now I'm finally semi-settled in my new home. I'm still in Japan, but am now a good bit further south, not all that far from Tokyo. It's a nice spot, I think. There are a few bigger cities, including Tokyo, nearby, but my apartment is a nice foresty spot. There are osprey nesting across the street from my apartment. How much cooler does it get?

I'm not really sure what I want to write about, so this will be a "sit down and let it flow" entry. A lot has happened in the past month and I've had a paradigm shift or two in how I view the world, my life, that sort of thing.

For one thing, leaving behind my students and my schools was quite difficult. I knew it would be hard, but I made the choice to leave anyway. The kids never asked me why, though a few of them told me they wished I could stay. What was harder was the other teachers asking me why, and if I had requested to transfer. The truth is that I did, but not because of anything anyone at the schools did. My living situation and my work-life balance, was simply not one that could be sustained by me.

No matter what other people thought they were deciding for me, I had never intended that my appointment in north-eastern Japan would be permanent, and I don't think I had ever said that it would be. I'm not completely sure why I move around so much. Since high school graduation, this has been my thirteenth move. One of my best friends tells me I have a Romany soul. I don't know if that's true or not. Another friend told me, to be happy, to have what I'm searching for, I have to stop searching. That sounds a lot like "settling" to me, but on the other hand, I think there is something to be said in finding happiness in the journey, in wherever you are, rather than thinking that happiness can only come at the final destination. Another best friend has been trying to tell me that for a while.

Another friend I met up with while I was home over winter break (in the US) told me to stop assigning "good" and "bad" to things and events, and view them instead as whether they cause pain, blood, physical harm, and sort them based on that criteria into positive and negative. I have for a while been trying to apply the logic "did anyone die? No? Then nothing all that bad has happened." But as my friend reminded me, thinking of a cool philosophical phrase and actually enabling it in your psyche are two different things.

Sometimes you need to hear something, or learn something, and sometimes someone comes along at just the right moment to tell you it. Or sometimes someone tells you it, but it bounces off--it wasn't the right time. Maybe later, someone else will tell it to you in a different way, and it will finally sink in. The site has to be exposed for the enzyme to bind, right? That sort of thing.

I confess to being a person that attempts to self-improve. I try to make myself a better person. I try to be aware of stupid stuff I do, and fix it. But sometimes I can't see the stupid stuff I do. Other times, something that worked five years ago for where I was in my life, doesn't work anymore, and requires renovation.

Living in Japan has caused a lot of stress. It's not Japan's fault, exactly. It's a combination of where I am in my life, what I came here to do, obligations I have, family situation, being distant from my support circle, health changes, work, culture shock, and the challenges that come from trying to achieve my goals.

My goals have changed a lot lately. I still have to pay down my student loans (ugh). I still want to carve out a career I enjoy that challenges me and gives me a feeling of satisfaction. I still want to write books and make art. But I have new goals, too. Unfortunately, they are hard to articulate, and they are all quite personal. It's difficult to have a goal when you aren't sure what the goal is. Maybe it's like bobbing for apples blindfolded. You know there's something in the tub of water that you want, and sometimes you can feel it, but is it an apple, a pear, a peach, a rubber ball?

As this is a public blog that anyone can read, I don't want to "kiss and tell" so I'll keep it vague, but about five years ago, when I was around 27 or 28, I made the decision that I had achieved enough personal development (I mean mentally and emotionally) to consider pursuing male companionship. It was shortly after that, that a guy played a major role in my decision to come to Japan, I was taken advantage of by one or two others (partly my fault for being inexperienced and naive), I tried some dating, got friendzoned a time or two, rejected more, and by the time 2012 rolled around I was feeling pretty fed up and tarnished by the whole "male companionship" thing.

But then I got lucky, and paradigm shift occurred. Just when I was thinking "forget this, guys aren't worth it" one came along who proved that actually, there are guys who are worth it, and I'm worth it, too.

Sometimes the right person just comes into your life at the right moment. I don't know why. I don't know if I've been someone's "right person" either, but I know there have been several times--maybe many times--when the right person has shown up at the right time, with the right words or actions, that helped me transition in my life to a new stage. I don't think, in this game called life, that you can level up by yourself.

That's my other paradigm shift for early 2012. I was looking at the game the wrong way. While I was thinking that everyone I encountered was my objective, in fact, these people have been helpers. They've taught me something, made me stronger, made me more confident, made me smarter, given me experience--even when it was a horrible experience. I've walked away from these encounters of the last couple years knowing more than when I walked into them.

"Thank you for your help, but your prince is in another castle. Here's an item to help you on your journey."

The point being that none of this has been failure. Failure is not falling down. Failure is staying down. Since I'm still walking on, I never failed; I learned. I made it through. I haven't given up.

So that's how 2012 has started out. I think this year is going to be "wow," just "wow." I don't know what's coming, but it's already started off with me shedding a thick, gross, old layer of ignorance, fear, and inaccurate self-perception. That doesn't mean I don't have any more progress left to do. I've still got plenty of ways I can make myself more awesome, at my own pace. It just means I left more than snow, a poor work-life balance, and an unsustainable living arrangement up in north-eastern Japan. I left a huge load of cruddy self-destructive thinking there, too--and I torched it. 'Cause who needs that cr@p? Not me.