Tuesday, June 25, 2013

Borrowed Literature

Everyday I questioned why I had left Thailand and given up a life that I was incredibly in love with. The time that I spent in Thailand was the happiest I had ever been, and I had spent more time exploring myself through art and writing than I had in years. The feeling of regret filled my soul each time the cold wind whipped my face and each time I stared at a bowl of rice for dinner and breakfast. The first two weeks I arrived in Japan were the loneliest I have ever been, and at night I would sit in the bathtub and try and lose myself in a moment that was not the present one. The time difference made it impossible to skype with family and friends back home, except for on the weekends, and so during the week I would come home and live in a world of silence.

But little by little, life started to change. I bought a bike and I started to get out and explore the gorgeous area that is my home. I was relentless in creating a social life, and in just the past month I have met a really cool group of people. The people around me are intelligent, passionate, fun loving and have a great sense of humor. Everyone is well traveled and most people are able to speak Japanese to some degree, which is inspiring and encouraging. I have become very active in hosting couch surfers, and have been able to meet travelers from all over the world, who are wonderful company when they pass through for the night or the weekend. Through many of my couch surfers I have been able to learn about Japan in ways that you only do through traveling. I have fallen head over heels in love with my job, and constantly question how did I get so lucky? I accepted this position days before leaving Thailand, when my original job fell through. Because I spend about nine hours of everyday at the school with my preschool class and my Japanese partner, my job is the biggest and most important part of my experience in Japan. In Thailand, this wasn't true. Work was second to the life, travels and friendships I had there, and so the effort I dedicated to it was lacking in many ways. I am completely obsessed with my class, Aurora, and I find myself thinking about them when work is over, as well as on the weekends. I look forward to spending each day with them, and always arrive in a good mood as well as leave in a good mood. I know how rare it is to love the job you have, and I am shocked at how quickly I came to feel this way.  A month ago I couldn't wait to leave Japan, dreading that the year would never pass, and already I'm feeling time speed up, and I know when my year contract expires I will find myself at a difficult crossroads. 

I isolated the one thing that was truly making me unhappy, which was my living situation, and I made an effort to change it as quickly as possible. This past weekend I moved into a studio flat in the heart of the city, surrounded by the most historical streets of Matsumoto. My neighborhood is shop after shop filled with Japanese antiques, crafts, jewelry, cafes and art. 

For the first time in my life, I am learning to live alone, and I am ok with it. I am finding ways to fill my time and to be comfortable in the silence that is being with myself. I am spending more time focusing on work, my hobbies, and writing. After spending the better part of my day in a room full of three year olds, it's actually almost comforting to come home and escape the constant noise of others. Plus, living alone means hanging out in my underwear, listening to whatever music I want, and leaving my art supplies all over the house, without having to constantly clean them up for another person. 

When I learned the word kaizen, it really stuck to me. It suggests that something can always be improved, you should always perform to the best of your ability, and it is possible to make great improvements, while depending on little from your environment. 

I honestly believe that this was the best move for me. The regret that I was drowning in has washed away, and I am finding myself standing in a beautiful place. Moving to Japan is an improvement for my life, and I am being challenged in ways that Thailand couldn't offer. I hope that as the year continues, kaizen is a word that I can apply to all stages of my time spent here. 

Colors in the Sky

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