Japan Journals 7: Running, Writing, Travel, God

7. I love running in Japan. If anything, this land has confirmed how therapeutic running really is for me. When I’m at my height, running makes me feel like I’m literally running from the BS life throws…I feel like it is a physical manifestation of leaving behind sorrow and heartache and longing; from the daily struggles and the distorted realities my earthly mind loves to concoct.

I think part of the reason why I’ve never run so much in my life until I got here is because I am able to run outside in the (sort of) wee hours of morning…12:30am, 1:30am…this is my favorite time to run (and because Japan is a relatively safe country, I am able to run at this time, which I could NEVER do back home, or maybe anywhere else for that matter). Perhaps it’s the shadowy landscape painted only in various hues of grey and black – makes me feel like I’m in a dream; maybe it’s the stillness – in the quiet, I can hear the bullfrogs and crickets and dragonflies and cicadas…maybe they’re talking to each other? Occasionally, I hear a car or bicycle zoom by.

Tonight was a particularly exciting run for me…in addition to the glassy waters, formed by the rain, in the farm beds that reflect the moonlight (which has inspired me to try my luck in painting this), the sky pulsated with purple light from the lightening. Every now and then, the pulsating light (kind of like one of those disco balls) aligned with my heartbeat, creating a harmonious dance between my heart and the heavens. Subsequent to this was the sound of faint thunder in the distance. At first, the sight of lightening and sound of thunder as I was running in the darkness – everything in shadow with only the moonlight Illuminating my path – startled me, but immediately after my initial reaction, I only became excited. I was running in the mysterious night in a foreign land amidst thunder and lightening! How cool!

Tonight was still and not still all at the same time; still because I felt like the only human on planet earth; not still because nature was quite alive tonight, as if it accompanied me on my run. I loved it. I love this.

But I believe my favorite part about running is how clearly my thoughts and ideas can formulate. It’s as if with every step, my thoughts piece itself together before me. Things that didn’t make sense suddenly do. Often, by the end of a run, I consequently end up having some sort of revelation about something or answering some profound life question. Or best of all, I grasp deep spiritual realities and enter a deeper place of prayer. It’s all very transcending…and healing.

With that said, during my run today, my mind brought forth something I read last night in the book Eat, Pray, Love that resonated with me: “Never did have much of a career path,” he says. “Never could do anything but the hustle.” It seems like such an innocuous sentence, but it made me think of my own professional life…at 30, I’ve had quite a few jobs: office assistant, journalist, analyst, clerk, social services worker, and now a teacher (to name a few)…and even at this age, I have no idea if I’ll ever have that one, lifelong career, but tonight, after my run, I realized that that’s okay. As long as I am doing something I enjoy, that helps others, and that pays my bills. A single career path, among many things, was something I wasn’t (and still not) sure about, which used to make me envious of those who had money-making “practical” career paths they could commit to, and enjoyed at the same time. But now, it doesn’t bother me anymore. I’ve come to accept this reality, that not everyone has this (and again, that’s okay!). Hence, that part in the book of not having a single career path resonating with me.

These days, I’m pondering what I could potentially do after teaching in Japan – would I continue teaching back home? Or enter the air force? That crossed my mind…

Anyway, what I do know for sure is that I love to write. I’ve tried my hand at practical writing, buy my heart’s just not in it. And I don’t think I’m good enough to sell a book but it’s certainly in the works. Writing is certainly a vocation, even if it doesn’t earn me a single penny, though I have made money from it at one point. But it’s not for money after all, only that I must stay committed to this inner calling that is…writing. I know that I love to travel and learn about other cultures. So far, I’ve dedicated my life to this; and when I couldn’t afford to stay in Japan for an extended period of time, I got a job and moved here instead.

I’m aware that almost everyone loves, if not likes, to travel – who doesn’t like to spend some days leisurely gallivanting in some new place eating new food with lovely, new views as the backdrop? So yes, I am among many who loves travel, but I suppose what makes me different is that I go out of my way to make sure it happens. It is this that makes me believe I – we – are more than just travelers, but students of the world, students of culture, students of ourselves because through travel, we learn about ourselves that I believe positively impacts our own families, communities, the world. When we know ourselves, we become better versions of ourselves, thereby naturally helping others.

And I know that I love God and my faith, without which my life would mean nothing. It has been and continues to be the source of my strength and hope despite the depths of my imperfections and weaknesses and shortcomings.

These are the things I do know for sure.

Oh, and running. I now know I love to run, that it is immensely healing. Just to tie it back. I’m going to watch Forrest Gump now…

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Pic taken from Pinterest 

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Niwase, Okayama, Japan (imagine this late in the night…it’s mysteriously beautiful…I’ll try to get a picture on my next night run)

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