Taking Responsibility

In ninth grade, my English class spent two months of our first semester putting together a book of vignettes. Every week or so, we would craft a short story about a specific moment in our life and at the end, we bound everything together with a title and a dedication page. I titled my book “No Regrets”. I actually forgot about it until just now when I was thinking about all the little bits and pieces that led me to this moment in life.

To be sure, I’ve made a lot of mistakes in my life. As an impulsive person, I’d say I’ve probably made more mistakes than not (I don’t even know what the opposite of a mistake would be. Is there such a thing?) And what is a mistake anyway? Maybe I’ll just call them “decisions that led to an undesirable outcome”.

Here’s the thing: that’s what life is. Ever read one of those “choose your own adventure books”? It’s not about achieving ultimate happiness, its about choosing your own path and then dealing with the adventure. Despite the fact that I wrote this book of “No Regrets” in ninth grade, I actually spent the majority of high school with a significant amount of regret, something that caused me a lot of mental and physical harm. It was mostly about miniscule things, things that have become tiny little blips in my present life. They still matter, sure, because they led me to where I am today, but I don’t agonize over wondering, “what if?” anymore. The thing is, it just doesn’t matter.

So today, I have no regrets. And my life is certainly far from perfect, whatever that may be. I can barely walk, I miss my family and my home to no end, and I am literally on the opposite side of the world where I will stay for another three months. This past year, it honestly seemed for a bit like something was out to get me, and I try not to think about happiness because lord knows where that’ll take me.

But this is my life. This is where all the little things have led me to be, and this is where I am supposed to be. Maybe its because I’m one of those people that believe that everything has a reason or maybe its because I’ve been studying Buddhism for the past two months. But life isn’t over yet. This moment right now will lead to another and another, until suddenly I’m looking back in ten years trying to figure out how I got there. And when that time comes, I want to know that I’ve had a hand in getting there. So instead of looking back and regretting, I am taking responsibility and living now.

A few days ago, someone asked me if I made the right decision in coming to Japan. My answer then and my answer will always be, yes. Its far too early to see where this will lead me and how it has changed me, but this has certainly been an experience.


Making Peace

I’m a person who likes to do what I want to do. And I’m a person who will fight to do what I want to do… because I don’t like to be told no. A lot of times its a good thing, but sometimes it means that I don’t know my limits. And I do have limits.

I’m lying in bed right now. Where I’ve been for the past two days. I’m supposed to be exploring Tokyo right now. Taking advantage of my $465 rail pass, but I literally can’t move. Over the past month, my eczema has deteriorated so much that after a ten minute walk, I can barely stand up straight. Somehow I got it in my head that if I could just push through the pain, everything would be okay. But bodies don’t work like that, and that’s a lesson that I’m learning.

After a very expensive trip to the hospital yesterday and almost not making it to Tokyo, I realized that I needed to stop and listen to what my body is telling me. Partly because taking two steps feels like I’m setting my legs on fire. Well actually its completely because of that. I don’t think I would have stopped otherwise. So as I’m writing this, I haven’t completely made peace with myself, but I’m working on it. Because not being able to walk sucks. It really fucking sucks. It’s not the worst thing in the world, but it makes life in Japan incredibly difficult and frustrating. And it’s really hard not to hate my own body for rebelling against me.

But seeing as I have no choice but to lie here and spend time with myself, its all the more important to make peace with what I have. So yup, that’s what’s happening right now.

Maybe its time to do some metta practice. That and ironically writing my research paper on healing in Buddhism.

When you feel like giving up

When the world seems like its crushing you into tiny bits and bits. When you don’t have the will to get up in the morning. When everything hurts. When you’re alone. When you forget what it feels like to not feel like this. When its too hard just to exist. When you feel like giving up…

Remember how strong you are. How hard you’ve fought to get to where you are now. Remember that each challenge you’ve overcome makes you that much stronger. Smile because you’ve made it through another day. Remember that it won’t always be this way. Know that there is happiness waiting in your future.

Think about how great it is to feel the sunlight on your face. To close your eyes and listen to your favorite song. To have a heartfelt conversation with someone who understands you. To be given a tight warm hug. To lie naked in bed snuggled under the sheets. To sit at home and listen to the rain patter on the window. To go on a long walk to nowhere. To remember that you’ve made it through another day.

Smile. Breathe. Know that everything is okay. Because you’re here right now. This is your life. The possibilities are endless.

When you feel like giving up.