First I looked down, then up, and now I am just looking… looking around the world with eyes wide open, as fully awake as it is possible to be for more than a minute or so at a time.
In large part I have the retreat in Denmark to thank for this. I shall be writing about this in full next month on www.embrace-transition.com/
With a working title already in mind for the series EAST TO WEST – the posting around June 20 will be the eighth written for this website since September last year. (The last, Time Slip, covering April was posted just ten days ago.) Hard to believe that only four months remain to fulfill my promise to describe my process of transition from Japan to Scotland over the year.
On arriving back from Copenhagen (though the retreat was actually two hours south of the Danish capital, just outside Maribo) I read what I had written here back in February (under the title All change) with bemused astonishment.
I was so sure.
Yet now I know my words were sheer bravado, a display of black and white certainty to protect my self from any lingering regret and anxiety about leaving Japan, the country that over 26 extraordinary and inspiring years had become more than home.
What did I write just months into my move here? How long ago my old life seemed… how 2012 already seemed like a dream, another world. “And here’s the truth”, I added (firmly). “It was.”
But of course it wasn’t. It is still there, simply going on without me.
I remember– she being far wiser than me – Kathryn’s bemusement at my words. She wondered how I could separate the past from the present with such a hard and fast line. Surely it was more a matter of integration than separation.
This morning, however, in a mail, she agreed with something I had written more recently, describing my black and white/set in stone reaction as, maybe, “ a necessary coping mechanism…”
She continues: “I think this is universal… one way we deal with loss, by saying ‘Been there, done that, it was wonderful, but now done’. Kathryn had used this strategy to handle both the death of her grandmother and the end of an important relationship. ‘It boomerangs back eventually and you have to deal with it.’
So here I am, dealing with it. Eating my words. Which taste both bitter and sweet.
I was very unhappy when I went to Denmark. Everything seemed blocked, eased only with words of comfort from Tokyo…
Kristin: ‘Re-entry shock is way worse than initial culture shock! Just breathe in and out and realise it may take a few years to adapt.’
Jacinta: ‘This – what you are experiencing – is what transition is all about. A big storm. One day the calm will come.’
Calm will come in time for sure, but for now it’s enough that life feels different. Something has shifted.
For one thing, the words I have swallowed have been digested and moved on. They have not lingered, turned sour – septic even – so causing distress and pain. (A major movement for someone whose second name over the past decade has been diverticulitis!)
Good timing also, and not coincidental. Akii has hit his own bump of culture shock, which manifested while I was away as a petrol pump that got in the way of my car. Now he is in the doldrums, wishing that he could go back and make a different decision about which way to turn, in which direction to head.
But he can’t; neither can I. Going back (to where we were before, both physically and emotionally) is not an option. While the road untraveled lies ahead, we are both right now where we are supposed to be. The sun is shining. Insects drone. The grass is full of speedwell, buttercups, daisies and bluebells. Trees hang heavy with blossom. Songbirds offer endless lessons in appreciation.
Despite the distant sound of power drills at work mending potholes in the A923, in this moment of granted presence, all is right with the world.
Now I’m smiling, wondering… In three months time will I look at these words and want to eat them too?