I am an American in Japan on my way to one of the holiest places on earth. This will be the first time in my life that I stay anywhere, overnight totally by myself. Mt. Fuji is a two hour bus ride outside of Tokyo. The farther we drive away from the city, the easier it is to claim that little apartment in the corner of Minato-ku as my home. It becomes a starting point where it used to be just another ambiguous resting place. The known rolls out behind me, as I go on splitting rivers into tributaries. This rain is thick accompanied by a low, heavy fog making everything here seem a little more exotic. Japan is an island after all. It just keeps raining, and this bus just keeps driving head first into a cloud, into a legend, into a dream as far as I can tell because there are no comparisons for me to draw from. I feel brave.
I arrive at the hotel with a curtain of clean, healthy rain along my balcony. There is a symphony of bird species beyond my window, so I do not mind that the mountain is hidden. I know it lives here. I know it is only just behind those clouds. It lives here, and here, is right where I am. I am staying in a traditional Japanese room with rice paper doors, traditional bedding, my very own Yukata (Japanese pajamas), and slippers.
I go to dinner and proudly stare through my misty champagne flute filled with Pellegrino. Sobriety never stops feeling like a powerful message of self respect. It is a lovely evening all the way up to teeth brushing and night time mediating. I turn out the lights to go to sleep, but there is an old and sharp fear cutting through the back of my head. It clenches my teeth together. I reactively put my face underneath the covers. I am absolutely alone with myself, and I am afraid. I fall asleep anyway waking up four times through night.
Morning is a gift. I wake up at 6 AM back to my assigned seat meditating on my yoga mat with the morning birds. Meditation breaks me from the shell and brings me back to the breath. I am curious about this fear.
I take a shuttle to Kawaguchiko Station and hop on a train over to the next town. I am on my way to see the Chureito Pagoda. I let my breath float away from me at the sight of this mountain. It is jaw dropping and breathtaking all at once. It rings like a mantra of time and space, igniting all of my senses, so I move like one, whole sensory thing. I let the awe in awesome take hold before striding up the 397 steps leading to the pagoda. I am winded by the incline and the fact that we live on a globe where we can move around pretty easily. All of this coming from me, an American girl from Atlanta, Georgia. I am living in Nippon staring down Mount Fuji. I feel brave. I was scared of sleeping alone last night, and here I am staring down a legend on my own. Maybe I can be both things.
What is this fear?
Fear is a liar. Fear sends my hand into a claw and my chest into a tight, tight fist. Oh, if only I could let go of this feeeeelling. Maybe, I could float a little higher. I am back home closing my thoughts after exploring the small town close to my hotel. I am back in my room, on my yoga mat, with a window view. As I meditate, the sun trickles down, and my eyes creak open to this sheet of grey and purple sky. Dusk is a rare sight for me like this. Dusk is an entry into twilight where as morning is an exit. Mornings and evenings are clear canvases and clear signs of resolve. This last corner of light is where I examine the halls of the previous day before it is gone. Before it disappears again with the trail of other ones behind me. Charcoal clouds creep in just behind the mountains. They look like giants on some wonderful stage just for me. I have a world over here all on my own just like Thoreau and his moon and stars on Walden Pond.
A moth sees my laptop light and wants inside of my room. It hits the window with its body multiple times saying, “Will you be my, moon flower?” Moon flowers open up in the evening and are pollinated by moths. How beautiful is THAT? The world that happens in between the days is a pumping heart. There is a whole underbelly of beauty that happens in restoration that we cannot see, but it is only a spyglass view away. It is on the other side of guilt. It is on the flip side of joy. All roles have a spot. Everything has a place to go.
This is where neon green leaves would begin to form without us noticing them. I loved Waylon Lewis’s description of the earliest leaves in Things I Would Like to Do with You. After winter, the budding leaves are shockingly, neon green, and I think that is true for anything that first comes out of the darkness, or first goes into darkness. It looks really strange. How beautiful it is to embrace the strange.
How can two opposite things still be the same?
I go into the sauna and flip the five-minute hourglass on the wall. Let me sweat. I say to myself. This is what it is to be very, very hot. Imagine freezing while you are melting. It seems impossible, but sometimes, the two sensations are only moments away from each other. If I am melting one hour and freezing another, maybe I am afraid one evening and brave the following morning. I can be both things.
What is the thing underneath all of these things that really stands true no matter what? What is underneath the fear, the bravery, the hot, the cold? If we are aiming to root back into our essential nature, we fall somewhere behind all of these extremes. I am not crying down the corridors of my mind with a stuffed animal wondering why I am so alone anymore. What am running from? What am I running after?
When it was there it was the only thing that mattered. Now that it is gone, it doesn’t seem so important.
What is this fear? Digging deeper and deeper. I want acceptance. I want love. If I am without something, it means that I am also with something. They cannot be separate.
I finish my evening by moving my bedding to the other side of the room. Feng shui is a real thing, and I felt fine after a long yoga Nidra meditation. I have weakness and strength. I am hot and cold. I can be all of these things, and it does not pull me away from who I am anymore. I slept all the way through the night and sat back on my mat at 6AM with the morning birds and Mt.Fuji. I traveled alone to Mount Fuji and let myself go.
As we continue our migration across the globe, my other timelines follow suit. Sometimes, it is hard to tell what is responsible for the changes I see in myself.
Am I different because I am traveling the world without a specific home other than Japan at the moment?
Am I different because I am now well over one year sober?
Am I feeling different because this is the collective consciousness of the world, or am I just feeling how a person feels naturally when they age?
The control variables for me are not always easy, so meditation practice, writing on this blog, reading and practicing yoga consistently serve as non-negotioables in my life. Whenever I feel lost, I can find myself again anywhere on the map. I just go back to the breath. I turn in and then turn my eyes out to the world as a sensory feast. Anywhere I go, I am here. Anywhere I go, I am home. Even, alone in Mt. Fuji.
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