How could I be surprised? Out from the deepest hole of a lonely winter night, I awake to rumbling street-cars for alarms, and the streets hurried by people running for late trains. And it's sunny. Somewhere I forgot that winter lasts beyond the first snow, and that Forever may not respect the calming realizations of before. What was quiet, is busy now.
Specifically, I've acquired a temporary part-time job teaching English to a hotel/train company: two mornings a week for two hours each, for a period of two months. I took it because it pays great, seemed easy, and would be a new experience. I found out I'll be working twice as much as I first thought, but will also be making twice as much money. It is not easy. And is more of a new experience than I had expected.
But the details of the job itself are not so important for this conversation. What's more, is the extent to which it has affected kyudo. Already, two mornings a week gone. Boom. OK, well there's three left, and three days a week for kyudo is good enough for me. Well, that is if I do the weekly preparations for the new job in a timely matter. As in, not leaving them to be done on Monday morning, which would interrupt kyudo ... which has happened the last two weeks. Now, two days a week. Well, every other Friday there's a meeting in the mornings for my real job which get in the way of kyudo. ONE DAY LEFT! Unless you have a drinking party with fellow teachers on a Wednesday night, and you can't wake up for training the next morning. That happened last week. Aside from the physical actual being able to go to kyudo practice, there's the added stress of added activities. I need time to rest. Just bearing through a lack of sleep to put the hours into kyudo ... isn't always going to work. If going to kyudo means I'm ragged the rest of the day, I will often not go.
So until mid-March, my kyudo will be limited to three days at best, but often two, sometimes one, and rarely none.
A sad sad story indeed. This beautiful beast has been romping in the garden, slowly turning to stone from lack of attention given. I haven't been in five weeks, and I'm not sure if it will be another one or two until I can physically get back. Ribs: these are an important part of your body for aikido. As every ukemi beckons me to fall or roll on the ground, impacting the concerned area, I will not return until pain has relented. We shall see. I wonder if such flowers can return from stone.
Writing? You've seen how often I've posted lately. Spare bubbles of time are popped by other necessary ... things.
Again I face an issue of freedom. How is it I am young, without kids, a significant other, financial debt, sickness, and drug addiction ... yet I seem to be spending a small amount of time doing what I really want?
So many times I've harped on this topic, yet deflected blows keep me circling around the edge. Already I've written this much without saying what I want. Let's see...
If you are given a plate of food, what do you eat first? I eat what I want last.
I usually start with the bread and butter, because I want that butter immediately before it melts. Then I go on to the salad because I see it as a chore. Then I may allow myself finally to enjoy the main steak, which has probably already cooled too much, along with the rice.
I don't go for what I want first.
Well, that's one particular approach to the things we do, and one I seem to have adopted for the past while. How has that been working out for me?
I think it's kind of stupid now.
There's often a set way of doing things, which delays the main course to a later time, and that can be beneficial. But the habit of delay just keeps our dreams out of reach, leaving us in a perpetual state of dissatisfaction. Welcome to America! Where everyone has what they want, yet cursed to a perpetual state of dissatisfaction! OK, that's a generalization, and I don't even live in America ... but one with truth. Anyway, let's get back to where I am. I'll try to be a little more direct.
I'm moving to Kyushu in the summer.
This changes everything.
I've spent bajillions of hours in my mind, and who knows how many scribbled pages on the topic, what can I say here to do it justice in brevity.
I've started to tell a few people, and the first question people ask is, "Why Kyushu?"
"Because I don't know anything about it."
This threw people off, because that's kind of a stupid way to make a semi-life changing move. But the reality is it's only half true. I've come to know a lot enticing details about Kyushu. But one thing I didn't quite realize is that it really is at the far south western part of Japan, drastically separated from most everything I've called home for the past three years. It's basically as far as I can go without moving to another country, geographically and culturally.
Budo: I will go to aikido as much as possible before a departure as soon as my ribs are better, but will certainly not take another test. In kyudo, I will continue with it as my budo focus, and hopefully test for a shodan (blackbelt) in May. I plan to move to Kyushu with no thoughts to continue budo. From there, I will look around to see what's happening and resume training given it's availability Definitely no more obsession to do budo at the cost of everything else, and no more commutes that take longer than the actual practice time itself. Though one thing about Kyushu is that it is a bit of a special place for kyudo, the center according to many practitioners. If there were a place to do it, it is where I'm going. In fact, for budo in general, Kyushu doesn't seem to be a place lacking. Though, as I said, I will move across the country without the weight of it's ... stuff. For about ten years martial arts have been my primary focus of my free-time energy (though it's shared a large plate with a lot of other foods), it's time to see what it really is to me.
Japanese Language: Well, I'll still be in Japan! This is kind of a ridiculous thing to include in the list generally, but I'm speaking towards a regimen of disciplined studying I have employed for the past year or so going through various textbooks. By the time I leave I will have finished all on my plate, and will move on without some idea of a necessary level of Japanese I need to acquire. I will go, see my true abilities, and move from there. It's an amazingly complicated ability: proficiency in a foreign language. People ask, "How good are you?" "Are you fluent?" "Can you read kanji?" Frankly, they are questions without simple answers. I started studying this language in my first year of college 9 years ago. Now I'm here. After one more large stint of concentrated effort, I will step a bit back from this as well and see what's going on. I've only recently realized the mountainous task I've taken on by challenging this language. "This is said to be the most difficult language in the world. So, I will give it 10 years to master." That's interesting ... I'll see where I am at that point in time.
Bike Riding/Hiking: This is the ultimate expression of my physical freedom. I love budo because I love physical activity. But underneath it is just going as far and fast as I can alone up mountains and into the forests. I will be doing this until I physically can't, and will do so until then whenever I have the opportunity. I look forward to exploring this especially in Kyushu.
Writing: This shall grow! The one physical practice I plan to nurture. However, I will not be publishing a book, attending a school, or calling myself "a writer" as if I'm it and not a lot of other things. So basically, I don't know what this means. To make it even more vague, it's not just writing I hope to focus on in my next life, but ART in general!
HA! Hail the right brain! I had to look up which side it was for sure, that's how uncertain I am of the details that run my life. All I have is a feeling, and one I want to follow. At the peak of the feeling is a desire to create. I've considered martial arts to be my art for the past ten years, but I need something where I can feel a little more ... free.
My life is one marked by significant shifts in location and activity. The next is due.
It's OK to do what we want, to do what we love. It's OK to challenge the world. It may be good. In fact, it may be the greatest thing we can do.
Stay tuned for more infrequent posts on the details of my move to Kyushu, reinventing the self, practicing aikido and kyudo, and the nebulous search for the meaning of life/art.