I’ve been back in the U.S. long enough to readjust to my home environment. I’ve gotten used to some of the niceties of home. The spaciousness of things is a big one. The fact that I live on a city, but still on a wide tree-lined street, is very pleasant and something that doesn’t exist in Japan.

The human interactions in the U.S., especially with strangers, still is a source of stress because it’s so unpredictable. People can be friendly, hostile, funny, bitter — you have no idea what you’ll get. I notice that I, and quite a few people I know, dispel the uncertainty with humor. But even though everyone is not going to be kind a pleasant as in Japan, sometimes you have an interaction that is so creative and funny that it’s notable and memorable. This fits into the concept that in a country where everything is pleasant and calm, creativity takes a hit.

I have noticed that the calmness I felt in Japan is still with me. All that sitting in temples and visiting fox shrines has had a lingering effect. I feel less agitated in situations that usually send me through the roof. When I start to become tense, I tell myself it’s no big deal, take a deep breath, and think of Nishi Hongaji or Fushimi-inari. I seem to be able to release the tension in my body much more easily than I could before Japan. I hope this ability will remain withe me.

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