Thursday, July 30, 2009

Message in a Cookie

Inside my wallet today, I found a cache of fortune cookies messages that I have saved over the last year or so. these little pieces of wisdom came to my attention on the day before I leave. Each one gives a measure of the path ahead.

"Others recognize your sweet nature."

"The current year will bring you much happiness."

"Many receive advice; only a few profit from it."

"Music melts all the separate parts of our bodies together."

Onward I go, to embrace the life before me, to follow the path, wherever it may lead.

Tuesday, July 28, 2009

In the Mirror...

The Dark Side of the Force is one that is just as omnipresent as the Good Side. In fact, they both exist as a part of the picture we paint of reality. Jung called it the shadow self--that part that we wish to hide from others and from ourselves, though we tend to be most successful in this with the latter. At first, I found it baffling that Luke Skywalker sees his own face in Darth Vader's helmet when in a dream on Yoda's planet he has a fight with him and beheads him. I now understand better that our greatest enemy is often ourselves because we generate so much of the effects of our fears and then try to externalize the source of these fears.

As the time for departure to Japan approaches, I find myself a tad edgier than normal. I'm not sure why. I am nervous about a few things, but generally find myself far more ready for this journey than any I've ever taken. It isn't, however, as if I don't have concerns and anxieties; I'm just not letting them bother as much. I have found that I get aggravated and frustrated more easily than usual and much of this comes from interacting with my parents.

I realized yesterday, or was willing to admit it to myself, that these aggravations come from within, from expectations I have of my parents and myself and judgments I make when I or they don't meet those expectations. Admitting and facing the truth that these frustrations are my choice has not been easy. It's far easier to blame others for my failure to find happiness in all circumstances. One thing is certainly true: if I can be happy here, at the source of so many faulty introductions to the world and its interpretation, I can be happy most anywhere. Of this I'm convinced.

Our surroundings are a mirror. When we are happy, the happiness that exists outside of us exists within by our choice to observe the world as it is. When we are fearful and angry, the world likewise reflects the inside of our souls back to us. It is when I am fully capable of and willing to accept this basic tenant that I understand how much power I have, and how frequently in my life I have chosen to accept that I am powerless and unhappy because of others.

Going forward, I want to try to look at this mirror, at the love and fear that is reflected back and know that the source is within me. Perhaps this is one of the lessons inherent in my visit to Ohio before heading off to Japan.

Monday, July 27, 2009


The cornstalks were well overhead by the middle of July. The silver maple in the back yard provided a way to see over them. From there, I could see the hills to the north of town, sitting with a somber, lonesome face. In those quiet moments, as I sat perched on a high branch, peeking through the dark green leaves to the blue bumps in the distance, a longing came that even to this day I don't fully understand. Some time later I learned the word "wanderlust," and when I saw that word, I immediately remembered those summers spent in the silver maple.

"What would it be like to start walking," I whispered to myself, "and just keep walking." I didn't know the direction was north then, but for the feelings that emerged, it wouldn't have mattered. The reality was in the emotion, in the deep-seated sense that my destiny lay elsewhere.

As time went by, neighbor kids made trails each summer through that cornfield. In my lonely wanderings, I'd come upon them and follow them back into the private land where there was an "island," a patch of land in the middle of the corn where the farmer who owned the land before it was sold off to developers had lived. But the house had burned to the ground, providing a hole in the earth where I could go and sit and think and wonder about the world that existed outside of what I knew. When I read The Lord of the Rings a few years later, I understood, again, somewhere inside that my life was a quest, and that I should go.

As I walk in my native State of Ohio, I remember those early days as the smell of cornstalks and the view of old farmhouses takes me back to those times. I stand, looking toward the future, knowing that I leave tears behind as the road opens before me. I'm not sure what I'll find, and I know that life won't get easier, but I have the sense that I'm finding the way to those long lost stirring felt in the boughs of that silver maple so long ago.