Tomorrow it will be one year since I left Japan to create a new life here in Scotland.
Right now my husband is in the air, on his way back here after a month-long trip relating a death in his family. He says that he does not want to return there, that Japan reminds him only of pain; “Scotland so much calmer and more peaceful.”
Initially I was shocked. He never again wants to go back to the country of his birth? But then I remember that he always thinks in extremes: life is wonderful or not worth the effort; people are kind or crooks; we are happy or we are about to get divorced… He swings violently from black to white, while I try to walk a path of grey, the middle way.
This is not to say I don’t think in terms of opposites: ying and yang, night and day, male and female. But I also recognise and accept all shades in-between.
I try to apply this into my everyday life, and all the reactions therein. Thinking of Akii and his current mind-set takes me back to the regular trips I made back here, at the end of each and every one I was just so relieved to leave. The UK was not the place I used to love: dirty, inefficient, selfish, unkind…
I remember fighting my way through the mayhem of Heathrow Airport to step into the waiting room for the return flight to Narita and feeling all tension drain from my body; Japanese people are so quiet and politely undemanding. It always felt like a homecoming.
The reality of city life in Japan is of course very different, and here we live in a rural setting, with sheep in the fields and harvest gathered in. Maybe that is what he reacting to, against…
The pain that he describes is quite another matter and one that I look forward to discussing, getting to the root of.
I have my own struggles to admit to, try to get into some kind of order. Because the truth is the last few weeks have been the hardest yet. I have tried to describe and understand what was manifesting in the most recent of my monthly series on the website Embrace Transition: http://embrace-transition.com/2013/09/30/east-to-west-taking-responsibility/
The editor of ET, Jacinta Hin, is a DOTWW graduate, and the whole idea of creating a site to help get a positive handle on change grew out of the course (level three, AFFIRMATION) that we were in the middle of when the earthquake and tsunami struck on March 11, 2011.
One of the projects that grew out of the following week or so was Embrace Transition as a Facebook site; it seemed the quickest way to start networking and help us all (as well as others) cope with events that piled up one after another. It also helped keep our families and friends in touch and up-to-date what what was happening (and not happening) in a way that mainstream Japanese media failed to do.
Jacinta had long been talking about writing a book on transition (change and transformation), so it was natural for her to take charge. Last year she developed ET – assisted by Peter Gramberg’s very beautiful photographs – into a fully fledged website; the book is an ongoing project…
Despite the emotional upheavals described in Taking Responsibility, I have worked hard to stay upbeat. The weather has been glorious and the hedges are dripping with fruit… If the old adage that a bountiful autumn presages a harsh winter is true, then I need to start to learn skiing now!
Driven by the need to keep creating rather than sink into poor me, I made jellies from rowan and blackberries and now have a line of jars on the kitchen windowsill that glow gloriously when the sun is in the right direction. Not sure how “set” the bramble jelly is, due to my winging it rather than admit I had forgotten quantities of fruit to juice to sugar. But I did better next time…
Reaching down a book on preserving, I was shocked into laughter and some guilt all over again, as it was clearly taken out of a library in 1979 and (obviously) never returned. Oh dear. Clearly the last time I did anything remotely similar in the kitchen: over 30 years ago. I take responsibilty for this historic theft also; just hope the admittance does not land me in jail.
To move on from this thought and for your interest, the photo header to this blog looks down into my preserving pan to a mass of rowan berries, half in sunlight, half in shade, with the handle providing the middle road. Ying and yang translated…
Friday I head for Provence, a repeat of the retreat that I used last year as my physical and psychological bridge between Japan and Europe. (http://www.leonardjacobson.com/events_france.php) Except of course it will not be a “repeat”. I am so curious as to how I will feel about being there. Slightly anxious but keeping this at bay with the joy of being here in the moment.
It’s windy here today, with leaves are playfully chasing one another round and round about in an endless game. The rowans and elders are so heavy with fruit that their branches are sweeping the grass below. Classic FM is playing on the radio. It’s coming up for lunch time and – with this piece coming to a natural (neatly cyclical) conclusion, all is well in my world.
The world outside? Another matter. Right now, I hold myself in presence… and any distracting fear-filled thoughts of past or future at bay.