The Wheel turns, and I am once again left with two dates upon which I begin a New Year. There's Halloween, the night when the veil between the worlds is the thinnest, and swiftly on its heels follows Dia de los Muertos, the Day of the Dead. I observe this New Year both due to spiritual reasons and personal milestone reasons. And then there's January 1st, New Year's Day, with the new year birthed for many in the cold and the dark. I also celebrate this day for traditional reasons and personal milestone reasons.
Both mean that I come to livejournal to read back over my past year's accomplishments, to reflect, and ultimately to write a retrospective on what has come before. I said that last year evoked the Descent of Inanna. This year, so far, seems part the allegory of Pandora's Box and part... I know not what yet. Probably the year of letting go, considering how I have had to let go of places, of people, of expectations. Considering how I have had to struggle to let go of previous concepts of relationships, let go of people who don't want to be held, let go of the familiar. This is an important lesson that many of us could benefit from.
I burned myself out in the East, growing and changing and coming close to hitting bottom and learning so many things about myself. I turned to ashes and those ashes drifted West and South once more, to leave me here upon my homeland's shore. I don't really feel like I'm burning now. Smoldering, perhaps. Rebuilding myself from the ashes, certainly. Preparing to rise again for grad. school.
Without further ado, and in no real order, here are things I did and learned this year:
1. I became the Voice Coordinator for my NOVA branch, and I excelled in the position. I built up the High Level Voice program, teaching many 1.5 hour discussion lessons on a variety of topics.
2. I struggled with the death of hope. I struggled with hitting bottom. I struggled with tearing apart my sheltered view on life. I struggled with figuring out how I want to live this life. These struggles are far from over, but I believe I learned something valuable in my efforts and brought myself small victories.
3. I said a physical goodbye to many dear friends: Becky (justfran
), Sarah, Damien, Kimber, Frankie and Saika, Matt, Irish Neil, Fran, Ben, Stan, Junichi, Mayumi, Iwao, Kazue, Yuko, Keiko, Kazumi, Minako, etc. I hope to see them again one day.
4. I went to many cool and interesting places: the New York Bar (featured in Lost in Translation
), the Japanese Imperial Palace (in Tokyo), Kyoto (and too many places therein to list), Nara, Osaka, Singapore, Tokyo Disneyland, Tokyo DisneySea, Tsukiji Fish Market, Ghibli Museum, danced at the Longest Bar, watched the Edward Scissorhands musical, etc.
5. I had David (void_dragon
) come and visit me in Japan, sharing an important place in the development of me with one of my greatest friends.
6. My friends and students threw a dinner party for me the night that I left for Kyoto, at which I felt loved and celebrated in a very wonderful way.
7. I discovered the fact that I actually enjoyed soccer and that the key to my enjoyment likely had to do with being able to watch said sporting events in a group of enthusiastic and friendly people. Well, that and I just seem to love a game where the basic rules are relatively simple and so many sweaty guys run around in blood-pumpingly exciting athletic displays. Given this fact, I may be more amenable to learning to like other sports in the future.
8. I got to enjoy a second hanami
season in Japan and with some great friends. I sat under a breathtaking cloud of white, drinking chu-hi and loving life. Hanami
is a part of Japan that will always, always lift my heart.
9. I underwent the harrowing experience of visiting Japanese doctors, sometimes with mixed results. However, I see this as an empowering rite of passage. Although incredibly sick, I managed to take care of myself and operate as required in the situation. That gives me an incredible sense of self-sufficiency. (Although I did wish for someone to help take care of me at the time, I don't consider that a weakness. ;))
10. I launched [website now defunct], which I desperately need to maintain. It's good to have a web presence, especially something serious that I can point potential future professors to. However, I need to get in touch with Damien who's been maintaining it for me and get him to up my disk space.
11. My grandparents' health took a disturbing turn for the worse, which is a trend that has continued with my return home. My grandmother is doing very, very poorly. Part of the reason I gave for returning home was that I was coming back to said goodbye.
12. Within three weeks of returning to Montgomery, my great aunt died suddenly. This is the first death I've experienced in my immediate family and had an instantly negative impact on my grandmother's health.
13. I returned to Montgomery, Alabama, leaving Tokyo behind me. It was a hard decision in some ways and a welcome one in others. I did feel that it was time to move on with my life, but I miss the freedom I had in Tokyo. (That and Tokyo is generally more exciting than Montgomery.) I know that Montgomery is but my pit stop on the way to grad. school but being back here scares me in ways I've detailed elsewhere in my personal journal. I'm keeping it real though, keeping the faith, and slowly organizing my plans to stay on the path.
14. Before I returned to Montgomery, I managed to secure a job with a small private school as the English teacher. This job has been exciting, harrowing, fulfilling, and frustrating all at once. I love what I'm doing, but I'll talk about this more in a reflective post on how the first grading period went.
15. I got my second tattoo and from a Japanese tattoo artist: the design is of two cherry blossoms blown by wind. Two years of fleeting beauty in Japan. It was a powerful experience and I appreciate that my body bears an intentional and artistic reminder of my years there.
16. I started playing World of Warcraft, which changes my life to the extent that now my brothers and I have an assured thing in common and I understand the community more. I can't see myself ever playing as much as my brothers do, but I definitely enjoy having various characters to play around with and interacting with my friends in a virtual world.
17. After ten years of friendship, I redefined my relationship with Andy (sirandrew
) and it has been exceedingly good in ways that I wasn't prepared for.
That's all I've got so far, but that's quite a lot jammed into one year. I pray that the year to come is as empowering, revelatory, and self-evolving as this one has been. I don't ever want to stop being true to myself or following my path through the Wood. And with the friends and loves that I have surrounded myself with, I think I will be well-supported in this endeavor. I will continue to be strong and independent, just as I will seek to be compassionate and understanding.