Nothing Is Forever
Something I’ve been looking forward to for some time has been my inevitable return to the United States. I’ve had plenty of time in Japan to experience life, face challenges, and simply search for something worthwhile. While my direction might still seem a bit murky at least now I know exactly where I’m headed.
Before coming to Japan, I thought it could be a longer than long term deal. I imagined a lengthy stay in Kanto full of different lines of work… a more diverse lifestyle. While that may yet be a possibility for me, now probably isn’t the best time to be here. I’ve been feeling disillusioned as of late, running up again and again against a wall of my own design. My skill in Japanese, my work experience or percieved lack thereof, my longing for change… it would be very difficult for me in my current mental state to make the necessary adjustments to my life while I am where I am now. I wasn’t meant to be in Japan forever. But that doesn’t mean I’ll go away forever. Nothing is forever.
First, an aside. Something that has always struck me has been the vision of mountains in the skyline. Coming from Ohio, where no hill could be compared to the mountains I’ve come to know, seeing such imposing features rising into the sky is both majestic and intimidating. While the coastal plains give way to beautiful coastlines to the east offering their own serenity, the mountains to the west feel obstructive to me at this moment. They still hold wonder, but I long for the feeling of seeing all around — turning three hundred and sixty degrees and knowing where the earth drops off. I love mountains, don’t get me wrong… I just need to shake their presence for just a little while, is all.
The Touch Of The Familiar
The most important thing to me right now, having recently gotten married and finally becoming an uncle in the same year, is my family. While I love my wife dearly and I feel her undying support daily, I need to see my mother, father, and brother again. I need to sit with them. Feel their presence. Dine with them. Talk in the same room, breathing the same air. I appreciate all that technology has been able to offer my generation but I’ve grown cold. Staring at my parents or my brother, looking at their faces on a glowing rectangle has left me empty inside. Seeing my nephew look at my picture, my image moving on a screen, untouchable, imperceptively and impossibley far away in the mind of a new child… I feel like I’m not really a part of his life. He’s been alive for some time now, yet he barely knows I exist.
It’s the reality of anyone living abroad. Anyone who chooses to live thousands of mile from where they were born will inevitably feel this form of emptiness and longing for the warmth of family, the touch of the familiar. It wasn’t a mistake; moving to Japan was a great idea which will surely open up many doors for me. My opportunities in the future will be much, much different now that I’ve lived, worked, and experienced the realities in a foreign land. I am a citizen of the United States, but I’m a man of the world. Perhaps I will never truly feel like I belong in any one place. But to be sure, one place where I do belong is with my loved ones, my friends, my family, and my wife… wherever they are is where I know I can go.
The Arrival-Departure Cycle
In my experience when you leave from the country where you were born to live elsewhere, more than likely a part of you will be left behind. A part of you will never make it back to where you came from. And, in the moment when you set foot in a foreign land, you begin an endless cycle which I’ll refer to as the Arrival-Departure Cycle (for the lack of a better term, perhaps there’s already something to this effect out there). Those who are bitten by the travel bug will know this cycle all too well, or the feeling of constant transience in regards to where you are at any point in your life.
You leave from your hometown to study abroad or work abroad, make strong and lasting connections to a new person or a new place, and then you have to leave. After you return to where you came from, your mind is constantly on your next adventure. The next step is always just around the corner and, upon making new connections or having new experiences where you returned to, leaving is always inevitable and the feelings of melancholy, depression, confusion, and longing are never far behind. Ever since my first international experience — one which I can recall quite vividly — I’ve never been able to properly lay down strong roots in one place, lost in the shuffle of coming and going.
Wherever you are, I hope you’re happy there. Wherever I end up, I hope I won’t become lost or broken. These days, we’re never as far as a FaceTime or Skype or Facebook call away from the people we care most about. And don’t be afraid to keep moving.
“As time goes on, you’ll understand. What lasts, lasts; what doesn’t, doesn’t. Time solves most things. And what time can’t solve, you have to solve yourself.”
― Haruki Murakami, Dance Dance Dance