Monday, June 22

I live in a city

I live in a city of twelve million. Yet of that number how many do I know, a hundred at best. The trains link the town through arteries of steel and plastic but do we feel any more connected? Where can we find the place to belong? Events swirl around the concrete jungle and become a moment of connection, yet can such a time extend for long enough to provide security in this vortex of insanity? Night descends and lights emerge, a combination of simple elements join together to reduce limitations, yet does the memory imprint with a lasting effect? Can what we experience on this substance carry on to the next day? The next week? What do we do when our feelings atrophy and die as the lubricant leaves our system? Each hour of consumption further fuels the meaningless lies we tell adding weight to the troubles we carry. Some of us are far more able to shoulder the burden but many of us collapse under the strain of simply trying to maintain the status quo. Why do we continue with endeavors that we know to be fruitless yet we desire to pursue because it feeds us that breath of life we call possibility?

We grab for the brass ring because we dream of that moment when we can grasp it and all the pain and sadness can melt away into another vessel. Those that have reached that ultimate height of being can relish an infinite happiness, yet such individuals can be counted on half a hand.

I hope like most sentient beings to reach such a point in my life yet the details of managing such an endeavor are lost to the fog of normal consciousness. How can one separate the regular needs of an individual in order to mesh with another? The general belief can be seen as this is impossible, yet data gathered in a closed setting would seem to indicate that this is untrue.

The point is, at what point are you (I) willing to settle for anything that could make you happy? Nothing is perfect in this messed up world of concrete, asphalt, plastic, and coffee. Yet if you can find something that can match at least ten desires, admitted or not, I say hang on to it with all the strength you have left.

I'm waiting for a city of twelve million.

Tuesday, April 7

The Denim Lady

There's a lady I see frequently in the town I work. Never really on the same day of the week never really at the same time of day but she's hard to forget because she always wears the exact same thing. A denim one piece dress with a thin yellow sweater tied around her neck. Thick rimmed glasses, straight black hair. I think I've seen her off and on the entire time I've been here. She's clearly mentally unbalanced. Not just the outfit, but the things she does with her hands while she mutters things only she understands. Her clothes are always clean and her appearance is neat so it's clear she's not homeless. But the oblivious way she fast walks around the neighborhood makes it clear something is off.

I used to think she lived in my area but the other night I saw her on a train bound for Shinjuku. She was already on the train when I got on and got off further down the line so I think she just likes to walk around the areas near this particular train line. Why, I can't begin to imagine but I had a chance to watch her for longer than usual. The thing I noticed was her unabashed happiness. I could be cynical and say that it takes an insane person to be happy nowadays but I can't bring myself to be that dour. No, in fact she has reached a place of happiness through simplicity. I assume she has someone to care for her as I doubt she is capable of holding down a real job and I see her at such random hours that it precludes any type of employment. All I know about her is that she really enjoys walking around the areas along the train line. Maybe she goes somewhere else everyday, leaving the choice up to her whims of the moment, maybe she visits them all in precise order back and forth and I only spot her at certain moments of her schedual. I don't know but I do know she is happy.

I used to live by the code "Be Happy, Nothing else matters". Somewhere along the line I've lost sight of that. I'm not saying we should settle if we find a little happiness but I think life is wrapped up in persuing things we think should make us happy but in reality don't. We are in more control of our conciousness than we think, if something causes pain, discard it.

Of course this is a tricky idea as most things in life are not so cut and dry. We need money to do the things that make us happy but hate our jobs. (At least, I hate mine for the most part) Human relationships are filled with ups and downs but I think it's pretty easy to seperate those people that will improve our lives from those that will only drag it down, at least in the short term. The question we should all ask is "Will I, on balance, be happier if I do this?" It sounds overly simple but is a hard question if you take a deep look and answer honestly.

The one thing The Denim Lady taught me though is it's not hard to be happy. It can be as simple as walking around some train stations.

I think I'll start jogging again now that the weather is nice.

Friday, March 13

The Homeless Writer

Several forgettable months ago I was approached by a homeless man outside of Yoyogi park. Normally I don`t stop to talk. This is a habit from back home where homelessness is rare but the few poor souls stuck on the streets are typically drug-addled and clinically insane. This is not the heartless dismissal it may seem, the city did shut down a mental hospital half a mile from my school with no real plan for the patients. A police officer responding to a disturbence call commented casually on the past proximity of two crack houses near my residence. Just across the street in fact. All of this in a city with a lower population than Shibuya on a Sunday.

But for some reason I stopped to talk with this man. Perhaps it was because he spoke excelent English and I was a little less jaded about the city in general. He turned out to be quite a character, telling me stories of his trials and tribulations. He was kicked out of a capsule hotel and accused of stealing a TV, almost arrested by the police for slashing another homeless man`s bags over a territory dispute in the rain, he was from North Korea. But most of his end of the conversation was anger directed at the Japanese people as a whole. To him, the entire island was full of spiteful snakes that smile in your face while they poison your tea. (His words, not mine)

Worst among them were the young women. I had recently broken up with a Japanese girl so I was willing to follow this thread and see where it went. It went to Crazy Town, of course. Suffice it to say, his anger seemed directed mostly at women. I did not think to ask what woman had wronged him in the past, but I assume it was a rather heavy blow.

What is the point of this? Nothing much, I bought some of his books (which I`ve yet to finish reading, wasn`t great stuff) and went on my way for him to accost another passing English speaker perhaps.

As I think back on this encounter I ask myself "where did his anger get him"? It is pretty clear that the answer is not far. I try to never get angry any more. I get frustrated constantly but almost never angry. Except for recently. This year in particular. Whatever the reason, I need to reign it in.

Thursday, March 12

A return

It's been over a year since I touched fingers to keys on this blog. So long I almost forgot how to access it. What has changed since then?

Gained weight, lost a dear friend (moved away from this crazy land, not death), lost two Uncles (The Reaper this time), gained money and tax problems. Two or three relationships came and went, the time between stretching far beyond the time within, combined. Club nights and near bar fights, alcohol fuels destruction. Came close to a nervous breakdown but decided it was not worth the trouble.

Spent money, earned money, worried about my job. On balance the spending was worth more.
Drama here, drama there. Lately more friends have turned to me for repairs as I turned in tears to others for some outlet for my fears and problems.

Went snowboarding.

But what have I learned? Not much, I feel as though I've lost a lot of good things about my life and yet have gained a few in other areas. On balance...undecided.

Things that once seemed a daily confusion or excitement have changed to ease and boredom. I know nothing more about my life than I did when I first stepped off the plane. Yet, I want to feel optimistic, I strive to be of a positive mind. My friend tells me this every time we speak, at some point or another, and yet, it is not easy. Nothing in this life is.

Except teaching English.

I do not wish to sound like I have no hope, far from it. I know that all of my "problems" are insignificant and could be fixed by a simple movement, just enough to engage the inertia of my life towards a more positive direction and things will be fine from there. I'm just waiting for the right push, whatever form it may take.

My last thought of the night (or the year as the case may be) is of cats.

It snowed the other day. A thick curtain of white powder flowing from the sky only to vanish on a ground too warm to maintain any decent dusting. During this cold onslaught I could still hear the stray cats (my neighborhood is lousy with them) mating in some out of sight spot. I'm no expert but judging from the sounds and some crude knowledge that I "read somewhere" I know this must be an incredibly painful experience for both cats.

Yet they have continued in the same way for thousands of years. This makes me think of the human animal. While true, the cat's pain is a physical one I believe the only reason the species has not died off is because they've not developed higher emotional reactions and social processes.

Back to the humans. I would argue that in many (and I'm willing to admit my viewpoint is limited and slanted towards the bitter end of the spectrum) but not all cases of human mating, it is also intensely painful to the parties involved. Though we have evolved past most physical pain involvement (unless that is your personal taste) we have shifted this burden to our emotions. It may take longer for the pain to sink in but typically, except in the case of absolute eternal true love (should one believe in that sort of thing), the result of human mating is pain on some level. Sadness, regret, anger, fear, and many others are all common side effects. The question I ask is,

"Why do we care?"

The cats in the alley underneath my balcony don't care, rain, sleet, or snow. It is simply a biological imperative. For us it is not that simple. I'm sure if there were no downsides to the act the human race wouldn't get anything done, ever. Perhaps it is a good thing we care so much. I think, however, that these concerns; even if we do not want to admit to them, for good or for ill take up too much of our time. And should you disagree, look deeper into your troubles and see how fast sex comes up.

I am out of cigarettes and solid ideas so I will have to leave this thought for another time.