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.

Poetry |静けさ – Quietness

It’s a quiet morning. The sky is grey. And slowly, I am working on improving my Japanese.

When it comes to language learning, I find it challenging. Language is such an inherent part of identity–who do we become once we learn a new way of expressing ourselves in the world?

I’ll be frank: language learning can be grueling, anxiety-inducing, and sometimes downright embarrassing. I am far from fluent in the languages I can speak. Still, I find my process of learning so very rewarding.

My process: using creative writing and literary translation as my primary tools for language learning.

Currently, I am focusing on Japanese and am writing poetry in Japanese. Eventually, I would like to begin writing short stories. When writing, I write in Japanese (or any other language) first and then translate to English. For me, this method feels most natural. Today, I am sharing a poem.

夏末の静けさ

涼しい風が吹いて、
遠いところに動物の遠吠えを聞いて、
まだ野花の綺麗な色を見ます。
ここにいる。

夜の空の闇の静けさ、星がキラキラ、
段々息がゆっくりになります。

まだセミの最後の歌を聞いてみます。

The Quietness of the End of Summer

A cool breeze blows,

animals howl in the distance,

and the beautiful colors of wild flowers

have captured my gaze.

I am here.

The night sky’s quietness, the glittering stars,

gradually my breathing slows.

Still, I am trying to hear the last song of the cicadas.

Black History Month | Event: “Lift Every Voice” (Feb. 27th, 6PM CET)

Image by John Cabot University

I am honoured to have been asked to participate in John Cabot University’s Black History Month 2021 celebration. Many sincere thanks to Alexandria J. Maloney for inviting me to join her esteemed panelists in this discussion on our experiences living and studying in Rome.

Please, join our discussion . You can register by using the following link: Event Registration.

Poetry | Trying #Tanka #Poetry Form

春風が吹く。髪が白くなる。季節を数えることをやめなさい。

The wind tells of spring. My hair is becoming white. This season and next season, I keep on counting. I really ought to stop now.

5/7/5/7/7 Style

The wind tells of spring. 

My hair is becoming white. 

This season and next 

season, I keep on counting.

I really ought to stop now.

Poetry | On Language Learning & Negativity

Itako, Japan

On Language Learning & Negativity.

Listen to me.
Like a child,
my words are misspoken
and my grammar is broken.
But, listen to me anyway.

Hear my words
because they have meaning
and create a connection
between you and me.

I am building a bridge
with a language that isn’t my own.
Won’t you help me?
Or, at least, not demean me?

That I speak your language
in broken sentences
and accented words,
what does it matter?

I am trying to build a bridge,
many bridges, in fact.
I am trying to understand
the world around me,
even if you don’t want
to understand me.

SoCS & #JusJoJan 2021 Daily Prompt – Jan. 30th| The Beginning, The End

In the end

I knew what I needed

to do to move forward–

and

that is really all that matters.

Now I only need to step across

the beginning

of my new path.

Poetry | An old cup

An Old Cup

Shattered,
glass fragments
scattered
like a mind tormented
by irrelevant
matters–
it’s only an empty cup
that was never once
filled up
with anything
particularly wanted.

Poetry | Untitled (Thoughts on Writing)

Tonight, I want
to write freely,

without pretense
or consideration.

I hold in my hand
a book of poetry,

seeking inspiration

or emotions,
long lost and unknown.

In this moment, too,
my hands shake.

yet still,
I reach for my pen.

Poetry | Untitled (Wanting You)

It’s not quite time for Valentine’s Day, but…

Photo by Jamie Street on Unsplash

Untitled
I am wanting you.
Let us move beyond
the child’s play of “like” or “love.”

I am wanting what my eyes can see
and my mind touches daily,
not your title or prestige.

It is vulgar this want of mine.
It makes no space
for the delicacies of dates
with wine by candlelight.

No, I am wanting you.
That is all.

#JusJoJan & #SoCS | Jan. 23rd: Half Not

Many thanks to Ritu from But I Smile Anyway for making me aware of Linda G Hill’s stream of consciousness writing challenge.

-Your prompt for #JusJoJan and Stream of Consciousness Saturday is: “close eyes and point.” When you’re ready to write your post, open a book, a newspaper, or whatever is handy and close your eyes and point.-

Photo by Paula Guerreiro on Unsplash

“…half not–“ I opened my eyes. My fingers gently touched the words in Mary Oliver’s poem “The Winter Wood Arrives.” What do I do with this? The words overwhelmed me yet released me. I feel half not, like some satisfying yet incomplete project. My life is filled with half not moments, things, and people.

I really should do something about this.

I started writing this blog, too, in a half not manner. I am half not dedicated and half not inspired to share my life. Still, I want to find ways to become whole and experience life wholly. Live in some place as a whole being, not halved, divided by countries, things, people, and feelings. I am wanting to bring my halves together to make one whole.

It is possible.

Recently, I realized just how deep my half not-ness roots are. Who knew they could get so far down? In love, in work, in self, just how willing am I to remain satisfied yet incomplete? I look at Oliver’s poem now because, although the use of half not is different, the meaning of the poem seems aligned with my sentiments.

She speaks of the struggle of steps and thoughts, the love that leaves yet never does, the practicality of what it means to live, and yet the need to burn away the things that no longer matter. Of course this is just my interpretation. I am not yet a poet.