The Journal Files: Are you glad you went to Japan?

I’m stealing internet, and to do so I have to sit outside my apartment so this post will be straight from the journal – sorry in advance for the lack of pictures and interesting information. (There are terrifyingly huge “bugs” (ANIMALS) in Japan, and I can’t stay out here for too long without dying, I am certain!)

Let the journal babbling begin –

-From August 14, 2009

I wonder what I’ll respond with when I’m back in the States and someone asks me if I’m glad I went to Japan. It’s premature thinking. I want to write so badly, but I keep feeling as though I have nothing to say – nothing new to add – nothing that hasn’t already been said. I’m being swallowed in self-placed pressure to find whatever it is I feel I’m meant to find or discover here, and I feel like I can’t write anything worthwhile until it’s monumentally deep, filled with these said discoveries. I’m actively searching for meaning, questioning every thought and feeling for deeper implications and realizations. When I’m not having these daily breakthroughs I keep looking for, I feel my experience is insignificant and so I have nothing to write. I’m living a quintessential argument in rhetoric and composition theory – is experience alone enough to make a valuable contribution to the literary canon? Is experience knowledge? (Maybe graduate school isn’t for me… even trying to ask the questions doesn’t feel quite comfortable on my tongue, on my mind. Maybe it’s learned?)

Maybe I should just live, just be, without constant questions and thoughts. But I fear if I don’t search and think my way through life, it will just pass me by in a blur, and I’ll look back at the end with disorganized conceptions of what my life has been, without ability to see meaning in it all.

Right now, I imagine if someone asked me, “Are you glad you went to Japan?” I would say, “Sure I’m glad I went.” Sure. So noncommittal. But everywhere in the world – it’s all the same. They put bleaching products in their cosmetics, lotions, facewashes and sunblocks here. They block their color, replace it with white. White, white, white. Men are in charge and women clean the office. power, power, power. Bells ring to signal the beginning, end and lunch hour of a work day. Order, order, order (and slightly big brother, big brother, big brother). It’s all the same, everywhere, even if the means differ. Maybe I’m losing the excitement and thrill of traveling. Being in another country, seeing another land, should be enough. I want it to be enough. But it’s not. But it’s not that I’m losing the thrill of traveling at all; it’s that we all speak different languages and have created different customs, but the rules are all the same. Chaos is bad, the status quo is good and money controls power.

I keep searching for my personal reasons – a deeper understanding of my reason to be here in this country. I look to golden Buddhas, history lesosns and zen temples for clarity but I keep coming up jaded. They’re just different tools for the same ends. Then I think I’m not looking for God but for myself. Maybe the problem with this all  is that I know myself already. I know my goals, my desires, my likes and dislikes. I can surely be enriched through this experience, but maybe I need to stop looking to be changed. I am me, but every “me” can benefit from new cultures. Maybe it is the same rules everywhere. Maybe the treasures in the world aren’t in the rules or even necessarily changing them… but in everything outside the rules and the tools for enforcing them. It sounds like I’m telling myself to spend the next year not thinking about politics, about the politics of sexism, racism, privilege and power… I’m not sure I can do that. And what does it say when the treasures in a culture are found only when you strip away the society?

This country is harsh, I do know that already. It is tough and callous and cruel in its adherence to its history and culture. America says make your own culture, Japan says learn the one we have. In a sense, I suppose all culture is is a set of rules we’ve all unconsciously agreed to adhere to.

I suppose the answers aren’t so important – but the journey is. This certainly is a journey, a great one at that.


And on a fun note (because somehow my journal entries, when I read them in retrospect, sound sort of sad – although in truth they’re usually just contemplative, not sad, when I write them), here’s what is happening to me RIGHT NOW, as I type this outside on the stairs, next to my neighbor’s door, crushing a bug that just walked across my screen —

so about eight minutes ago, while I was typing this post, something musical started in my apartment. Obnoxiously musical. I didn’t know at first it was my apartment… it went on for a minute or two. I finally went inside, and it was my fax machine. I turned it off. I came outside. I started typing. It went off again. WHAT? I went back inside and turned it off a second time. I hit every button on the machine. I yelled at it. It stopped. I came outside, began typing again. It started singing again. WHAT?!?! I went inside, UNPLUGGED IT and came outside. I am sitting here now, and about 30 seconds ago, IT STARTED AGAIN. I’m feeling rage build inside of me, and I’m laughing really hard at the same time…

Seriously, I just entered an episode of Friends … watch it, and it’ll almost be like you’re here with me!

Phoebe can’t shut off her fire alarm.

(ps – it’s still going. Mine is still going. Where is the reset button?!)

~ by C on August 31, 2009.

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