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reflections on wayfinding

always learning


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Knotted
guardian
olifhar
Chaos. Confusion. Tumult. Commotion. What's the word I'm looking for?

Setting off to live in Japan for a while set me on a road for untangling a lot of stuff. No, not really untangling. It's complicated, but it's not like if I separate all the strands, things will all be solved. So maybe it's more like: it's opened the door for needing to confront these problems that I've been pushing away for some time.

The low point of my trip to Japan was about two weeks after I arrived, where all I was really doing was cooking, watching some Netflix, then playing Ark until about 0300. I'm now grateful that the game stopped working, because that required me to focus on other things to a larger extent.

I had a lot of pent up shame about my life—and for many years leading up to the trip. But learning Japanese, and then later chasing the possibility of finally putting it into practice allowed me to push those things away.

When I finally started going to Meetups, I felt pretty great. I felt like I finally had an okay place in the world, after all these years. I felt validated about my language learning. At night, though, I still felt sad. I had anxious thoughts, though slightly different ones.

Having a realization: during the second and third sets of an amazing Goose House concert in Diver's City, in Daiba, Tokyo (which I attended with my friend Rob) I found myself feeling sad, as I had many days and nights alone in the house near Kinugasa, Yokosuka. I realized that all the anxious and depressed thoughts revolved around one thing: I felt ashamed about where I was in life, and where I had been in life up to that point.

Acknowledging this was a big release for me. So that's all it was. It really wasn't all that complicated. I just feel ashamed about my life.

Bryce got back the week after, and I had plenty of things to do together. We went to some of the group meetings, some parties, and enjoyed our time together.

After some great experiences, as my time in Japan came to a close, the frustration and embarrassment life began to come back, especially at night. I was able to talk with Bryce about stuff, especially about fears about the future. I didn't feel like it resolved anything in that moment, or made me feel that much better—I prefer listening to people over being listened to.

But at this moment, what I was trying to express seems a lot more simple than it did in that moment. So I think talking about it, rather than letting things race around in my head, had something of an effect.

I know that's why I write most of the time. I don't get any special enjoyment from talking about enjoyable experiences. I don't think I even really like writing so much. But it's one of the best tools I have for attempting to figure things out.

We had a really great final weekend, where friends from the Meetups came to our house for a bit of a potluck. I cooked some Filipino food, which didn't turn out as great as I would have liked, but which everyone seemed to enjoy enough.

The next day, I went walking in the big park behind the house that I'd never been to.

And then, early Monday morning, I was off to the airport, then Hong Kong, then Newark.

Bryce and I had a potential scheme for me to stay in Japan until his tour was over next May. After getting some critical pieces of information, that does not look like that is going to work out.

So I'm left heading to Japan for 90 days at a time.

Signing up for classes is still an option, but I'm not sure I'm willing to sacrifice the money, or the time. Twenty hours a week seems to be the minimum to be granted a student visa. I also found out, probably a year too late, that the student visa application process needs to begin really early. For fall classes, you need to have things ready by mid-winter or so. The deadlines for fall have passed now, and since the next semester begins in April, that leaves me way out of sync.

And getting a decent job isn't an option, either, since I don't even have a bachelor's degree yet.

There aren't firm limits on how many days you can go to Japan on the temporary visitor status, which is the 90 day thing. But in practice, people seem to get denied once they've hit 180 days. And is that for any one year period? Is for the calendar year? It's not even clear from the personal reports I've seen on the web.

So that leaves half of the year open...

But that's not really the main issue. It is a complication to one possible way to address the main issue.

The issues I'm facing have to do with shame, which are driven by my personal problems. Debt. Credit record. Trouble with employment. Lack of a social life. The fact that I'm still residing with my parents while being over thirty years old. The barriers to affording living on my own, because of my financial history.

The problems are clear to me now. But the exact path I need to tread to address these things isn't. And that is what is getting to me today, beyond the sense of disappointment for not being able to stay in Japan for the rest of the year.

There are practical parts that get complicated when you try to balance them. The fastest way to improve my financial situation would be to get the best job I can now and stick with it. But if I pursue that full speed, I sacrifice my freedom to explore the world, especially during this period where I have a place to live sometimes in Asia. And these chances might not come again. I can't go full speed with trying to finish my bachelor's degree without a way to pay for the classes.

Beyond these current problems are the problems I really want to work on in my life, things I find very meaningful. Those are stories and art. They won't pay off my debts any time soon. But they are also the kinds of things that people regret putting off until retirement, instead of starting the process now of building the right skills. Most of the time I'm afraid to admit that creating stories is what is most important to me personally, because most people find it laughable to value this, unless you can prove you have talent. But if you accept it as laughable, when will you start working on getting good in the first place?

Overall solution lies somewhere in patience and persistence. But from there... I know myself enough to know that asking myself to be persistent without creating something compelling to look forward to will fail. If get bored, I get depressed, and years go by. That's what scares me the most. I want to move forward without being miserable in the meantime, because even being miserable off and on is one of the surest ways to sabotage my efforts.

This is the point where my thoughts get into a tangle. So maybe the process isn't about untangling the issues, but untangling the solutions.