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Friday, August 17, 2012

Self Discovery In The Red Spiral

The item I believed to have misplaced up until a few days ago is none other than a red spiral notebook. It looks exceptionally unexceptional from the outside, a bit tattered and worn even. I brought it along with the intention of keeping track of the day's events and reflecting on them. Naturally, I was so caught up in the moment of what was actually going on that I failed to do so nearly every day. In the very back are pages of emails, hand drawn maps, and phone numbers of the many people I met including the address of the host family I stayed with. I was so saddened at the thought of losing this notebook because I wanted to write them back so badly, and I'm ecstatic that I now can. Along with these really cool memories are exactly three journal entries.

The Red Spiral Notebook

The first entry is a rather short one, about a paragraph in length. It briefly mentions what I thought of the flight, as it was my first time flying, and where we were set to stay upon landing. The third entry was written entirely in Japanese and talks about the home-stay experience I had in Amakusa, a place I'd absolutely love to visit again. In between those was an entry that gave me a chill to read. Not the bad kind, but the type of feeling when you run across something from your past that simply sends waves of feelings and emotions through your veins.

Now might be the time to go on a brief tangent to help illustrate why this entry was so meaningful to me.

Before 2007 and my first trip to Japan, my studies were focusing towards a biology major. I had been told I was smart growing up, and as such, I should become a doctor. My father was (and remains) involved in the medical field so that certainly added to the push as well. I accepted this fate at an early age, wholly believing that a career in medicine is what I would pursue. It's a curious thing about being young that we often times adopt what has said or bestowed upon us without thinking whether or not we actually wanted these titles and paths. Perhaps we want it because there is a desire to appear pleasing and accommodating to those who raised us. Maybe it's as simple as not having developed enough. Whatever the case may be, I certainly didn't take much time to think about what direction my life was heading until I found myself in Japan.

So now, I flash forward now to the present day, and the second of three entries written in my red spiral notebook.

A very important day

There was a date at the top, which I'm glad I wrote, since it placed that writing at about exactly halfway into the trip. I was most definitely in Fukuoka as well, since I labeled it such. It was about a page long, so still not the most exhausting of entries, but it was an entry into which I poured my heart out on paper. In the opening sentence I mentioned how I needed to take the time to reflect on what had happened so far. There were no details or specifics as to what happened on the journey that coaxed this entry other than the word "dog" being brought up in conversation. It was enough to make me think about my own dog, which in turn made me think about my home. I explicitly stated that I was not homesick, so much to the point that I underlined the word "not". It wasn't to say that I did not miss anyone, but rather I was happy to be where I was. I talked about how I remembered what I left behind, what things I needed to fix, and what I had to solve before I could "make the switch permanent". It struck me so hard to read that line. It was written so casually, so passively, yet filled with so much conviction that I surprised myself in reading it. I went on to mention how I discovered myself by this point in the trip, how I added to the list of things I wanted to do with my life. In the final sentence I wrote:

I think so

"Maybe… is my life changing?"

It almost has an innocent or childish charm in the way I decided to word it, but also slightly chilling as though I knew that what I had written was meant for the older version of me sometime down the road. It wasn't something I could fully understand then but now I know. I had no qualms the day I wrote that sentence. On June 14th 2007, something rattled me enough to declare on paper that I was to make a change in my life. I can pinpoint that day now as the crux in which my life went the direction it's currently going. And it is fabulous to have that knowledge.

It's a bit a moving, really.


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