Fuji-San

It’s funny how the simplest of things can become the greatest of things in our lives. A passing comment from one individual can turn into a favorite of another. It makes me think of how little kids develop their favorites in life… Is it simply because their parents say something about that item, and they give it the right kind of encouragement that the child believes it is worth loving, and so the object becomes a child’s favorite of its kind?

What brought up the idea as a whole for me, though, is where I’m walking right now.

I’m on a path that goes alongside the river and the sports activities park in the town where I once lived in Japan.

As I walked up the stairs a few minutes ago, tears were burning my eyes, I was so elated.

A time in my life that I had simultaneously loved and hated with a passion, and here I am overflowing with joy at being able to come back and visit. Who I am now is nowhere near the person I was when I lived here, and that person is even different from the person who moved here.

I came to take a break. I didn’t want to be a teacher like I had been doing anymore.

I didn’t know what to do with myself.

But I had a feeling of wanting to get out… I wasn’t sure from what, if it was just the job, or the future of such a job, or the city, culture, or even, now that I can look back with different eyes, who I was and who I was being at the time.

Whatever the case, I decided to get out of the country. I came to Japan with a highly recommended, highly valued, highly honored, and very poorly paid job.

I struggled and I struggled and I struggled… I hit the lowest possible point I’ve ever had in my life regarding myself.

And, with that intense and slow yet fast break down, I set out to have a breakthrough. And I had the most intense overwhelming and invaluable breakthrough I have ever known, let alone in my own life personally experienced.

While I was here, living in Japan, I developed particular connections and attachments to different things. Onigiri, konbini, summer festival sake, kimono, yukata, onsen, train cards, and, last but far from least, Fuji-San… Mount Fuji.

I remember learning a long time ago that Fuji-San was a walkable mountain, as was Kilimanjaro. It never once occurred to me that I might have the opportunity in my life to climb either of these mountains. It simply wasn’t in the frame of possibility for me, and so I never considered its being a possibility.

And yet, the week I was leaving to move to Japan, one of the people who had interviewed me and whom I had greatly enjoyed getting to know, commented, “You should be able to see Fuji-San.”

It was at that moment that I remembered that Fuji San was even in Japan. And I had had no idea that it was going to be anywhere near somewhere I would be. (I still am pretty rough on Japanese geography.)

My first few weeks living in Japan, one of the other people with my same job, whom I had met at orientation and befriended, had photos of her hike up Fuji-San with a Japanese friend of hers. I then talked to her about it, and she told me how miserable it was, trekking through the rain, the miserable cold hurting her fingers and toes and entire body, yet she was extremely glad that she had done it. In the photos, pure joy was visible in her whole being.

It was then that I remembered the walkable fact, and I realized I could do that.

Naturally, it terrified me. But I asked about it, anyway. I learned that the season for climbing was very limited, and the person I had asked and who had offered to hike with me, was not going to be available this time. So, unwilling to go on my own – which, even with today’s eyes, I see as a good idea – I would have to wait until the next year. 11 months before I could do it. I didn’t have shoes right now anyway. And I quickly discovered that Japan doesn’t exactly have shoes in my size. So, I made it a point to buy hiking shoes when I went home for a wedding in November. I bought them for Fuji-San.

I was delighted, and terrified. I hiked a few mountains from then on to summer, and I loved every bit of it. I never knew I was such an outdoorsy person. I mean, I’ve always liked being outdoors, riding my bike, climbing trees, going on a walk… Whatever. But not a hiker. It turns out that I love hiking.

When I finally hiked Fuji-San, it was one of the most miserable nights of my life, even worse than that horrible time I had to stay outside the Montpelier airport, and I needed to pee from the very beginning, but had to wait five hours. (That really sucked, by the way, and it was really cold out, and I was not dressed appropriately for it.)

And it was lovely. The next morning was even worse, and we were all clear that we were never doing that again. But we wouldn’t have traded it for anything.

Now as I walk along the banks here, I look out in the direction of Fuji-San. The clouds cover everything in the sky, as it is a somewhat overcast day, with low hanging clouds. Yet, I can feel Fuji-San. I know it is there, and I remember going up the hill regularly to look at it on clear days and nights.

It feels like a part of me lives with it.

Multiple times I visited it and took photos with it while in kimono. I went more than once to the lakes.

I want to go again, but it doesn’t seem to make sense this time.

Yet, I might still find a way to go, anyway.

I have a relationship with this mountain, this unbelievable and massive being who resides in Japan… And I wonder if any of it would’ve happened, if this connection ever would’ve developed, if that one person I respected regarding Japan and Japanese culture hadn’t said to me, “You should be able to see Fuji-San,” from my town.

Whatever the case, I am grateful for his comment, and I am grateful for everything that has developed in this beautiful relationship between me and the earth of Japan, which really is just a piece of this earth where we have the honor of living and where I feel blessed to be every single day, night, and moment of my life.

ありがとうございます富士山さん🗻

Fear

Tonight, I had a conversation that I was worried about having – I was afraid of it, and I didn’t know how to have it, and I was afraid of it bringing forth shame for myself regarding past events (although I am not ashamed of them anymore, it felt like this conversation could bring back those upsetting thoughts of shame)…

And I knew the conversation would be best had, and not left milling in my mind, making me ever the more uncomfortable, eventually to be come ‘comfortable’ by familiarity with the discomfort…

And so I had the conversation.

I was honest and open, and I shared how I wasn’t sure what I needed out of the conversation, other than merely having it, and how I wasn’t sure what would be best to do about the concern I had/have, and that I was afraid to have the conversation, but knew it was best had and not left quiet – staying quiet and convincing myself that I was overreacting was what got me into trouble with the last stuff in the first place…

And the conversation went really well.

We don’t yet know what all is best to be done about the concern I had/have, but we have come up with a start.

And that feels good.

And it feels good that it is a “we” working on the matter, and not just a nervous “I”.

I am so grateful.

I told my cousin that this is a week about trusting oneself, and tonight’s conversation was just another one of those amazing moments of how beautiful it is when we trust ourselves truly.

Gratitude.

🙂

Post-a-day 2019

Third Grade

And, some nights, you begin telling your mom about various memories from third grade – a class you’ve always remembered as one of your favorites – and she ends up telling you that it is time for you to go to bed, because you have become a bit of a blubbering mess of surprise emotions…

I mean, I do, anyway… 😛

I had no idea how much negative emotion I had stemming out of that class…., a lot of which came from that teacher.

I’ve always loved that teacher.

Tonight, in recalling these incidents and the way they made me feel at the time, and how they somehow exploded me with tears tonight, I said to my mom that, as a teacher, I never want to make my students feel that way – embarrassed, incompetent, incapable, unworthy…, unloved.

I hadn’t ever had these particular incidents in mind, but perhaps these third grade memories have played a somewhat significant role in my open expression of love to my students.

I’m not sure a single student of mine could say honestly that he/she thinks I don’t love them – they all know that I do.

As if my actions weren’t clear enough, my constant verbal expression kind of makes it too hard to miss – but my actions, most likely would say, are already sufficient for them to experience and to know that I love them.

My mom said that it is merely part of life, and that I, therefore, necessarily will end up making a student feel that way at some point… I need merely make sure I clean up the situation immediately, whenever it does happen, whenever the student is distraught by my words or actions…

Part of me is terrified at the idea, but part of me feels like I already do a version of this.

I tell kids constantly that they are wrong or have done the wrong thing.

At the beginning of the school year, their faces look momentarily panicked, until they realize that I have clearly put no grade of them as people into my comment – I mean exactly what I have said, and only that which I have said.

In a rather short time, students don’t even flinch at my words that, traditionally, when coming from a teacher, end up embarrassing the student and making him/her feel stupid or inadequate or [insert upsetting self-identity adjective here], because they realize that I love them and that my words have nothing to do with that love dissipating – I tell the kids they have something wrong, because I love them and I want them to learn the right ways, which happens to require them to learn, too, what is wrong and how to fix it.

And they always learn how to fix it, and are praised for their success – their joy always being evident.

In short, I might make a student feel inadequate, but the feeling lasts no longer than a few seconds, before being replaced by something amazing instead.

What was missing for me in all of these memories, was the follow-up, the release of my feelings of inadequacy… the teacher left me to be embarrassed, and so I stayed that way onward and upward in school.

It kind of sucked.

However, if it, in fact, plays a reasonably large role in my expression of love toward my own students, then, perhaps, I needed the negative experiences for myself, in order to be able to love my students so well…

And, therefore, if it does end up being inevitable that I will leave students feeling the ways I felt in third grade at these incidents, perhaps it is merely so that they, in turn, can go forward in life to love even more powerfully than they can love at present.

You know what I mean?

Post-a-day 2019

Borrowed(?) Memories

Some of my most beloved memories aren’t actually my own memories.

How my cousins would marry multiple friends at their school’s spring fling – marrying was one of the booths at the event, and so you could pay a dollar and be spring fling married to as many people as dollars you wanted to pay…

How my mom came across my brothers, aged about four years and one year, in a room with “MICHAEL MICHAEL MICHAEL MICHAEL” written a few feet off the ground, all over the walls… A—- could barely hold onto a marker, let alone stand tall enough to reach the words, as well as being able to write letters, and yet Michael says honestly to my mom, “A—- did it.”

When that same brother, aged maybe a year more, was angry at my mom at home, and declared in a huffy huff, “Well, you’re a…. you’re a damn!” and then stormed out, while my mom did her best not to explode in front of him with laughter.

And, once more, when that brother was a little younger, and he was with my mom at the store, and he began throwing a fit about not being allowed to have a toy of some sort, and my mom told him to hang on, and she asked the lady a few feet away from them, “Excuse me, ma’am, is he loud enough? Can you hear him okay?”… and my brother shut up really quickly…

One of the best memories is from a video in which A—- receives a birthday present, when aged around four or five years, that is inside a massive cardboard box in the garage… Michael stands within view, his back to the camera, awesome bicycle shorts on full display, and then picks a massive wedgie… a few moments later, A—- walks inside the cardboard box, disappearing from view, and everyone suddenly hears, in a little boy’s imperfect pronunciation, “Batman bike!!!”

He then appears, walking out of the box, pushing an awesome little Batman bicycle with training wheels (and all the boys are instantly envious).

These are a few of my favorite memories…, and yet none of them even had me present, and most were before I was even born.

They aren’t exactly my memories…

That someone how doesn’t change the the fact that I love them dearly, nor that I share them regularly with people.

I still find it somewhat weird, nonetheless, because, again, they aren’t even my own experiences that I’m remembering – just the stories of the experiences… perhaps that is how things are when people love events from history, you know?

The great wars or movements or, even, fashions or movies…. they are, in a way, borrowed memories…

Hmm…

P.S. A big bug hit me in the face on the way home today, and it hurt. 😛 haha

Post-a-day 2019

Speedboats and slow thoughts

I might have shared about this already, but I’ll share it again, because it’s on my mind…

I was thinking tonight about this boat thing.

(Well, actually, I was thinking about Pride and Prejudice by Jane Austen, and how I’m looking at reading it with a friend, so we can talk about it, but that this time I might do well to make a list of reasons why it’s good that I didn’t live in Pride and Prejudice times.

You see, I usually get lost happily in the story, such that I am sad when I finish it and just return to real life… it only ever takes me a couple or few days to read, because I end up doing little else once I start reading it.

And so, at the end of it all, I am covered with a sort of depressive feeling of my life being inadequate and/or uninteresting and I likely to be anything wonderful compared to the world of which I’d just been dreaming in Jane Austen’s book.

Anyway, so I was thinking about making a list of reasons, right?

I’d thought, ‘Oh, the whole bathing part makes me glad I don’t live there… that’s for sure,’ because I like being clean, and clean didn’t seem to be so precise a thing in those days, and smelly was all too common…

‘But then,’ I thought, ‘I couldn’t have ridden on speed boats or gone water skiing…, though I could have ridden on big boats between countries… like the Titanic!… only not the Titanic, because that was terrible, and, besides, it was much later in time, anyway…’

And that was then I thought of tonight’s topic renewal!)

Sophie Kinsella has a book where the main character has amnesia… when she watches her wedding and honeymoon DVD to help jog her memory, she sees herself beside her husband, who happens to be driving a speedboat.

She is absolutely delighted by the fact that her husband can drive a speedboat(!), and brings it up in her mind somewhat regularly, partly as a reminder that it it worth staying with him, despite the fact that she doesn’t remember him or seem to have a connection with him, and partly just as an adorable and silly reminder of how amazing her life has become (since she can last remember it), because, goodness, a man must be amazing if he can drive a speedboat(!), and it is even more amazing to be married to such a man.

Totally silly, I know, but that in no way changes the fact that I love it every time I think of it.

The main character does such a good job of convincing the reader of her belief in the fact that her husband’s skill is spectacular, that I found myself even thinking how amazing it would be, even dating someone who knows how to drive a speedboat.

‘Wow!’ I would think, ‘What could that be like, knowing, let alone dating or marrying, such a person?’

And this thinking continued for rather some time – even a couple or few years, I dare say – before something absolutely absurd hit me.

Growing up, two of my grandparents lived in a private community of lakes a ways North of Houston.

It would take us about two hours, door to door.

My uncle kept a ski boat there.

And we grew up kneeboarding and water skiing.

The damn broke terribly when I was supposed to start to learn to ski, but I eventually had the opportunity, when the damn and lake were restored.

And so, for the last couple years my grandparents lived there, I was the only child living at home, and so the only one who went to visit with my dad whenever he went up (the other went, too, but nowhere near as often).

My dad, therefore, taught me just about everything needed in terms of caring for and using the boat.

The ski boat… a speedboat…

Meaning, of course, that I not only know my dad as someone who can drive a speedboat, but that…, well,… I know… myself… you see…

Yeah… not too sure how I missed that one… for years.

😂😂😂

Not so impossible after all, to find someone who can drive a speedboat. 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Memories

My cousin and I were talking tonight about old, old memories in our lives.

Growing up, I had a situation that was incredibly unique at the time (and that still is a bit unique nowadays), in which my parents each had children from a previous spouse, only had me together, married when I was three, and divorced one another when I was four.

My siblings on my mom’s side not only lived in the same neighborhood as I did, but my mom and I were regularly at their dad’s house, spending time with them and, even, their dad, who was my mom’s first husband, but with whom my mom was no longer involved in such a relationship.

My siblings on my dad’s side moved to Georgia (until they kind of moved back, off and on, one by one, starting when I was about nine), and so were only around for certain holidays and for what I guess to have been about a month each summer.

My cousin pointed out that she remembered being often at the place my mom and I lived for many years together after she split up from my dad, the one that was in the neighborhood with my brothers and their dad.

I, too, recalled that they often were there visiting us, and we often were at their house (two hours away, by the way) visiting them.

She then presented the interesting and confounding concept of accepting the idea of someone seeing one’s cousins more often than seeing one’s own siblings…, because that’s really how it was in the first decade and a half of my life, so far as my mom’s sister’s children and my dad’s children were concerned.

I have many more memories from earlier childhood with those cousins than I do with my siblings on my dad’s side.

Certainly, I saw my brothers from my mom all the time, almost daily…, but my cousins were, as I can pull up old school activities and projects to show, some of my favorite people in the world, and they were often on my mind, because I saw them often…, such was not the case with my siblings on my dad’s side.

Sure, I cared about them, and I had spectacular memories from the brief time we all spent in the same house when my parents were married to one another, but I really think we could say that I had more a relationship with and attitude towards them that people have with cousins, rather than one with siblings.

So, my half brothers were like my brothers, my cousins were like my half siblings, and my other half siblings were like my cousins… relationship- and attitude-wise, anyway.

Kind of crazy, huh?

I hadn’t really ever thought much about it, because, as my cousin also pointed out tonight, it can be amazing what kinds of things we just accept as children, not concerned in the least about whether they are uncommon or absurd.

I guess the absurdity doesn’t surprise me, of course, because, well, even now, absurd is normal in my life, as this same cousin so graciously pointed out to me a few years ago. 😛

Post-a-day 2019

Accents

It takes the smallest of things sometimes to shoot us into a mood or an attitude.

This time, it was an accent that shook me down.

This evening, the comedy station was playing, and an Australian comedian spoke for a couple minutes or so.

Only halfway through his couple hundred seconds, I was pulled helplessly and hopelessly into a desperate desire to be around a specific friend of mine, who is Australian.

I have multiple Australians in my friend store, one could say, but this one in particular shot to the top of my mind, wrenching my stomachs into an empty ache of longing just to hang out with and chat nonsense with this particular friend.

Crazy sometimes how these things happen, isn’t it?

Post-a-day 2019