It’s been 5 months since the big change in my life, quitting my job, moving out of town (to a better town, of course), finding myself where I have the total control of most aspects of my life. But I did not like the part that, since more time was freed up for myself, more time was consumed by watching morning shows. So about a week ago, I had to put a stop to it. I stopped watching TV entirely.
Back when I was in school at Davis, one of the professors asked us during his lecture if we wanted to know the secret of achieving our goals. Oh, absolutely, we said. His answer was simple – stop watching TV, then you will learn to play the violin, learn to speak more than a few languages, and have enough time left to cook for one’s family and for work out. Not many of us thought twice about it….well, back then we were young.
My days started to become more quiet, focused, while listening to KCRW (radio station in Santa Monica), not caring what are happening in the Japanese society. It’s very quiet. Except this morning, I was so restless that I had to watch something to numb my senses. Yes, numbness, that’s it. That is what watching TV does to us.
Speaking of numbness, I have been thinking about my past in great details, because of the guest talk I did at the university. I had to explain how my 20s – the shining 10 years of youth for most people – was excruciatingly difficult for me. I cannot explain many actions I had taken back then… how I treated people, how I had thought my heart was invincible but in fact it was not, how I could not see what other people were feeling.
Yesterday, I saw the famous TED Talk by Brene Brown for about a hundredth time, and realized – I thought I was capable of feeling love and kindness but in fact I felt nothing. I thought I was invincible because I was not feeling anything at all. Total numbness. Looking back, I probably had to switch off my feeling because my life had been so difficult. I was very sick, and despite all the things I wanted to do in the world, my body was simply not capable of handling much work. I could not even go skiing (not because I was scared).
Something happened when I was around 30, probably, but I don’t know what that is. I started to feel, feel the sense of love and belongings, kindness and friendship. It may have been that the stress of “being nobody” lessened. Gradually I started to realize how I acted so badly when I should have been kind… which led me to self- destructiveness and allowed people to treat me badly. Looking back, I was ashamed of myself and thought I was being punished by the god almighty. It took me a few years to see what was going on, and to recover enough to talk about it, and to start feeling that I am worthy enough.
That was probably about the time when I watched the TED Talk for the first time. It helped me tremendously to know it was OK to feel lost or vulnerable, and I was not the only one who was afraid. I started to become whole again.
So, if you ever knew me in the past, like, long long time ago, I am probably not the same person you know. I learned to be in the moment, and to care… and the most fundamental reason for that may have been my health. I am healthy again, at long last.
This is an English-only post, because I do not know how to describe these in Japanese. You might think I “translate” my blog into English, but I don’t — I just write in English, then in Japanese, separately, so that both contents are often different. The language for describing my feelings and spirituality is English. I wonder if Japanese lacks precise words for explaining one’s feelings… because we usually don’t have to (except for me, obviously)? Is that the reason why I have more close friends outside of Japan than in Japan? I often wonder.
Like Dr. Brown says, you cannot selectively numb one feeling. So if you want to feel, you have to feel everything. And it’s OK to be afraid… we are all so scared, it’s not just you and me.
Stay strong and beautiful, and vulnerable, my friends. That makes us whole as a human being.