At the edge of the horizon

At the edge of the horizon
At the edge of Japan

Friday, July 4, 2014

From Rainy Season to a Summertime Blues

The rainy season of June came and went, but it didn't fly by gracefully.  Instead, I struggled with it in a vicious stress-filled manner.  It wasn't the rain that bothered me though.   This June was one of the most difficult months I've endured here since the first 6 months that I arrived.  Most of the issues occurred at work, since I spent a large portion of my month there pulling 12 hour days to get my skit team prepared for the prefectural contest, to finish up a major speaking project that I had designed for my English Expression class, and to write my final final exam.   I didn't have any time to write or do anything after work, because I was so tired that I would just come home, cook dinner, and fall asleep.  On top of this, I was packing up several years worth of belongings in the first two weeks of June, to ship them home to Florida.  So, half of my apartment is gone, and the rest of it I need to deal with this month.

My brain feels a bit fried from last month, to be honest.  So many things happened and I got so little sleep that I was starting to feel really unwell physically.   I had to cut back on a number of projects and events that I had wanted to complete or attend before leaving Okinawa in early August. One thing I do want to mention though is that I was invited to help an Okinawan theater/dance artist director friend of mine with his interpretation of a bilingual Japanese-English Hamlet.  It was a short reading at a large bookstore here, which allowed us to both perform and promote Shakespeare's text to the audience.  He had me play both Gertrude and Ophelia in a doubling way alongside a Japanese actress, so that both the English and Japanese were echoing each other.  It was very interesting and a fun project to complete with the talented Okinawa-based actors.

Ophelia and Ophelia's Double

I still have one month left here, but I know that it's going to fly by so quickly.  There are rare moments of downtime when I recognize that I will probably never see some of my friends from here again in person.  But, I'm also ready to move forward and I am hoping that wherever I am heading, that the future is as bright as an Ishigakijima summer day.

 Speaking of Ishigaki, I decided to visit it before leaving Okinawa.  When I left that island 3 years ago, I was determined never to return.  I had mixed feelings about my year spent there.  In retrospect, I think most of my problems stemmed from severe culture shock mixed with poor diet and health due to my inability to know what had gluten in it and what did not.  I also felt terribly lonely on that island thanks to a JET community that was at complete odds with each other.  But, when I went there this past weekend, I heard from several friends who had met the new JETs who had arrived after I left, that they also went through hell and back in trying to find their way and make a life for themselves on that island.  So, I realized that it wasn't just me.  As a tourist, the island is an exceptionally gorgeous place on this earth to visit.  It's also still rather sleepy, even though tourism has picked up quite a bit with the opening of the new airport.  It mostly looked the same apart from a few new restaurants and resorts, but I suspect within the next 5-10 years that the sleepy element will no longer exist and that it will become a world-wide destination for resort vacations like other islands are.

It was nice to go back and see everything there again in person.  All I had were images of the island stored away in hazy memories.  It made me think about how much of our lives are lived out in memories or in anxieties rather than in the present.  It also made me consider not getting an iPhone when I return to the US, because of the fact that it is so easy to spend all of your downtime on that time-wasting contraption.  I love taking photos of places and instagramming, but ultimately my memories shouldn't be of Angry Birds or Facebook status updates, they should be of people, places, and feelings I had at those moments in time.

Over the next month, I may be too busy to update here on a regular basis as I had planned to, but I will do my best to update at least once or twice before my Okinawa life is finished.   Because I'd rather spend my life in the present, I've limited the amount of time I spend online, and this includes blogging as well.
Just know that I'm living my life and trying to make the most of every day.

See you again soon.



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