Golden Week is over already. Time flies when you're having fun. Or even when you're not, I suppose. Since March, I've gone through a veritable amount of change, some of it good and some of it not so good. Or rather, some of the changes were easier to deal with than others. For one thing, April marked the beginning of a new school year, with new students and (mostly) new teachers that I co-teach with. They are all pretty fantastic teachers and I've been enjoying my time in the classroom with them. It's completely different from last year, so that is a positive change. I also have a new set of students and they are all so genki and happy to be in their 2nd year of high school. They haven't yet reached the state of exhaustion (or boredom) that I felt the students were already at when I arrived in August (half-way through the school year, I might add). Also, I have had a chance to completely structure and design my class this year. That being said, I really wish I understood Japanese better. It would help me function better on a daily basis, establish deeper connections with my co-workers and would enable me to enjoy my time in Japan much more. I've started to put myself on a 1-hour per day mandatory study session (but I've decided, it cannot be all book work, or I will just end up quitting. So I've added listening to Japanese music, watching Japanese movies, listening to some of my Japanese on CD programs that I have, and trying to write to my former Japanese teacher in the US). Ultimately I need to start speaking it more often and with more confidence, especially with my students (not in the classroom, but outside of it). I really do enjoy teaching the students at my school. They are incredibly friendly and often (surprisingly) outgoing. Not all of them, of course. We do have the requisite shy Japanese students. It's mandatory when in Japan.
So those are some of the easy changes I've gone through since the end of March. Some of the more difficult ones include: (a) the breakup of the relationship I was in and (b) trying to locate where I need to be and what I need to be doing in my life. About the relationship. I not going any further into any details regarding my new single status, but I do want to say that I'm grateful for the experiences I had and the memories I get to keep.
The second part of this is sort of related to the breakup, but not exactly. I have been trying to figure out where I am going and where I was coming from before I moved to Japan. It's easy to lose track of the original path. I know I'm a different person from who I was when I moved to Japan nearly 2 years ago. I'm much happier, in many ways. I've sort of become an artist of the floating world, but I am not around enough art or making enough things to feel like I'm able to fully immerse myself in the artist community in Okinawa. I felt so good when we did the Shinsai Project in March. I loved working with everyone in collaboration for that reading. I started a writing contest with another ESL teacher here, which was sort of a quasi-writers' group with just the two of us, but we had different goals (she wanted to finish the Scriptfrenzy 100 page count mark within a month and I just wanted to get started on a long-term writing project: A full-length script. I'm currently at 53 pages and done with Act 1, but I've decided to do a little more research before I head into Act 2). It was a good experience to have this type of writing group.
Lately, I've been thinking about the concept of success. But that's also triggered a number of thoughts about how I define success and how I might need to re-evaluate things more carefully. I know that every day is a gift. I know this. But sometimes I want more. I want a job that pays more, I want to have written and published more, I want to run a theater company and/or be somehow involved with others intellectually and artistically. Is it the labyrinth within me that has lead me to believe that all of my paths are perilous and winding? Is there a way through without all of the struggle? There must be. And this labyrinth that I've created...was it always there or is it a system of defense mechanisms designed from fear? Is this not complete and utter solipsism?
What should I be doing with every moment of every day? Should I not be feeling and sensing everything in the present? And if so, how can I think too much about an unknown future?
I don't have easy answers to these questions. I am not even certain these are questions worth analyzing too much. There is a point where over-analysis becomes the root cause of struggle.
Do I continue to live my days in Okinawa as I did during Golden Week this year; going snorkeling, meeting mainland Japanese on holiday, working out at the gym on a daily basis/throwing myself into yoga practice and attempting to write more frequently? Or should I focus more on my future and how to get to an elusive goal that seems to change frequently? It seems as if the more I think about these things, the less certain I have become. A friend of mine suggested Zen meditation.
Anyways...I left my camera at school, so instead of posting some photos of my trip to Komakajima last weekend, I will post a clip from SAYONARA II, by Oriza Hirata, one of the Shinsai plays that I failed to post earlier. It's in Japanese without subtitles. Time to study Japanese. The guy in the video is famous for his youtube video Shit Japanese Students Say 日本の生徒がよく言うこと.