Saturday, December 31, 2011

2011 - the year of cutting loose.

Well, I'm sitting here in a hostel in Malaysia, after having a lovely Afternoon Tea at Harrods, and contemplating this assignment that I really need to get finished.

What better time to reflect on the year? After all, there's only a little over six hours left in it.

For me, 2011 has been the year of cutting loose.

One year ago, I quit my job, upon the realisation that it wasn't something that I wanted to tie myself to for the foreseeable future. Not necessarily because I felt entitled to something "better", but rather that I hadn't given myself enough options.

I spent the year floating about a couple of jobs, still building my experience through a few projects, but not committing to anything permanent.

And, of course, I've gotten a few more stamps in my passport, from Samoa, Malaysia, Japan, and Singapore.

I also took a break from writing, which feels like a mistake in hindsight, but at the same time, I never felt the compulsion like I used to. But that's okay. There's nothing like forcing a habit to create an anathema.

Living in Japan has also been an experience. It's been a challenge, absolutely, but a good one. It's taught me a lot about personal limitations, in a similar-but-different way to my time living in Darwin. It's made me realise how valuable certain things are in my life. Things like friendships, language, stories, and being part of a creative community. These are the things that I find beautiful and invigorating, and I need to seek them out where I can.

And everything else? I've realised that every moment isn't necessarily as critical as I once thought. You never really burn bridges, and whilst I'm taking time out doing other things, I'm going to come back to an industry/world one year later, where people are still basically doing the same thing that they were doing when I left. That kind of thing isn't for me. Then again, neither is coasting through life on a whim of wanderlust.

So, what does 2012 hold? Something very different. I already have very specific ideas of what I want to do next year, but I'm afraid to immortalise them in blog-form, lest I jinx myself. But unlike 2011, there will be no more throwing caution to the wind. 2012 will be about making plans, making commitments, and getting real again.

See you next year.

Monday, December 26, 2011

Merry Christmas!

We're in Singapore! We've been enjoying the festive season in the balmy tropics of the Straights Settlements, and it's been wonderful. Videos to follow soon.

In the meantime, here's some footage of winter illumination around Japan. The first is from last week's trip to the Arashiyama Hanatouro - a winter illumination festival in Kyoto. The second is of the illumination on the shores of Lake Hiraike near my house.

Happy holidays!

Friday, December 16, 2011

100 days in Japan

So, this week marked 100 days in Japan. It's been something of a tumultuous week, with some disappointing news on a number of fronts, of which I won't go into.

The hardest part about living here has been the uncertainty about the future. A part of me still clings to my past professional life, unwilling to let go, and be happy with living in a place where I don't have the obligation to function in society on a professional level - or even to a capacity where I am valued as somebody with professional skills. My only unique talent here is my ability to speak English, and without fluency in Japanese, my capacity to utilise that talent is severely impaired.

And yet, I feel compelled to at least try to be satisfied with what I have in front of me. Just chill the hell out, and simply be. Stop trying to analyse the problems of the world. Stop feeling futile in the face of them.

My life's prospects aren't going to go down the tube, simply because I didn't work for a year. I need to stop acting like they will, and I need to get over myself.

(But it's hard. It feels like giving up.)

Thursday, December 8, 2011

Kobe Luminarie

This evening I visited Kobe for the Kobe Luminarie - a light festival that is held every December for about 2 weeks, to commemorate the great earthquake of 1995. The lights were donated by the Italian government, and are turned on for a couple of hours every evening during the festival.

It was absolutely enormous. They close down city blocks to accommodate the crowds - at least tens of thousands, and that was just in the one evening! Once the lights go on, the crowd slowly moves down the street, under ornate illuminated arches, leading to the Kobe Earthquake Memorial Park, where there are other illuminated structures.

Along with my Koyasan visit, this has been the most stunning event I have been to in Japan so far.

Saturday, December 3, 2011

Movember 2011

So, November came and went, and with it came the opportunity to grow questionable facial hair, whilst remaining suitable for social outings. Here is a progressive video of my mo for the month.

The big question - do I keep it? Do I grow it more? Or do I purge my face of its follicle growth?