Life in Japan | Begin Where You Are

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Mito, Ibaraki, Japan. Weather: Rainy.

I’m sitting in one of the many cafés I consider a second home, watching passersby struggling with or embracing the rain. It’s Sunday morning and early enough that the late night clubgoers are still heading home. I am in awe of the high schoolers heading off to club activities and the salarymen who are likely heading to work some more. An obaachan holds on to her umbrella for dear life, her hands look gnarled yet strong and her bent back has seen its fair share of field labour of potato and rice harvesting, I imagine. That’s right, I am imagining, imagining the lives of the many people who happen by and who will likely remain unaware of my observation. What about my own life?

Recently, I have taken another step, shifting away from simply observing to taking action. A life lived in limbo is a life left on pause. I decided it was time to press my play button and see what happens. It’s a wild yet freeing feeling. I am learning to make peace with who I am and where I am in my life. Beginning where I am as who I am…what a crazy notion, at least for me. And it all began with a simple question: who would I have been if [insert whatever traumatic experience] didn’t happen?

Upon waking, I thank the universe that I have another opportunity to continue on this interesting journey called life. I am grateful for my breathing because I know that I am here. I make my bed with pleasure. I stretch for a moment and then clean my apartment…and then stretch some more. My body still feels heavy because of old experiences and thought patterns. However, I am feeling lighter in my heart and body as each day passes. I make a simple breakfast and lunch–I am practicing letting go of greed. I am letting go of suffering.

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Actions taken without worry, without the nagging inner critic or concern for the outer critics. This is the type of life that I am creating…and it is empowering. I am learning how to listen to feedback, whether from self or others, nonjudgmentally, taking from it what I find necessary for self-improvement and letting go of the rest. Freeing myself from the suffering of shame, the feeling of being inherently wrong as a human being, is my work now. I have discovered that my mind left without self-compassion is a dark and seemingly unruly place. I have also discovered that I am not my mind, nor am I my body. I am who I am.

Understanding that I am and am not has been crucial to pressing the play button on my life. I can observe the parts of myself, my mind and my body, with curiosity and then with intention. How shall I shape my mind to think? How shall I shape my body to move? My mind is my canvas, and I am the painter. My body is my clay, and I am the sculptor. In this way, I am choosing to move forward with my life.

Recently, a friend shared with me her knowledge of kintsugi (金継ぎ) or kintsukuroi (金繕い), the Japanese art of mending broken pottery using gold, silver, or platinum. She said to me that she thought that it was a lovely metaphor for when we are feeling broken in our lives and trying to mend ourselves. That is, that we can choose how we mend those places in which we have experienced hurt, to make those places and our overall sense more beautiful and stronger in the process.

So, in letting go of suffering, taking action in our lives through acknowledging ourselves, not just as mind and body, we can begin where we are on our journey and heal those places in which we have experienced hurt. We can begin creating new paths to an authentic self.

Have a beautiful day today and every day.

D.

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