I sit in my dark office, a room alone in the the massive penthouse apartment. Legs up on the table I notice the tautness of my back and the looseness of my shirt as rain drops slowly crackle on the skylight above me. Minimal, ambient synthesizers waft out of monitor speakers, as my cat sits sleepily next to me on a pile of moving boxes. I’ve been thinking a lot, having hit so many checkpoints in my life this year, wondering of how satisfied they make me, and comparing them with the past. Sifting through memories of scents and sensations, views of hidden bays spied from remote mountains, and nights laid in shrine gardens staring up at maple trees. Are experiences’ worth measured for their immediate value, or the aftertaste that carries through a lifetime? How much of the import I place on these things comes from the decay of detail, and the crumbling of a slowly filling memory?
As the unending tide of neuron connections increase, it becomes harder and harder to focus and recall any one particular moment, in particular the small details that make up so much of a person. The thatched, textured wallpaper that covers so many Japanese apartments, replaced by unseen workers with every tenant change, and how I drew my fingers over it lying in any number of low, mattress-centered beds on a myriad of listless Sundays. The shadows that called out to a floating younger self, not caring to understand the voices that would later form the suite of my invisible critics, the forces that would get me hooked on the drugs of easily accessible information and small, internal rewards for completing mundane tasks. The myself which at the time seemed natural and now so primitive, but in retrospect is inevitably envied, the root of some fundamental wound which stiffens the mental joints only more with age. I wonder now if remembering those soundless formative experiences is a hindrance or a boon. If anything the uncertainty of which direction leads to peace is the only constant between that man and another ten years on.
As fortune would have it, I have been able to come back to the idyllic surfer beach of Ooki on my way to temple 39. Today being Sunday, surfers fill the tides providing ample spectacle to observe. I feel physically tired but hopeful. The last week has been taxing on my feet, and I haven’t slept on something softer than concrete since leaving Tokyo ten days ago.
On the contrary, my spirit has been buoyed by a number of supportive villagers along the trail. Only at my most tired have I begun to grumble and doubt my choices. Being this disconnected from my normal oversaturation of media has given me a lot of pause. My behaviors range from silly to solemn. Though I can’t say that I have come to any conclusions yet, I think I am gravitating towards some. I thought my priority was to try and find some resolution about my obsessive compulsion to produce artifacts and refine my skills, but it seems I have been skirting the issue and examining my subtle prejudices instead. This of course is also quite worthwhile and I am letting my mind wander for the most part.
I love the ocean so. It will pain me to leave it behind again. Knowing in Sweden I cannot hop on a morning train and spend a blissful summer day at the shore makes me feel trapped somehow, locked away.
Nine months after leaving my love, I am back on the beaches of Kochi, my heart suspended somewhere between the gentle crash of the waves and the setting sun. Being here feels so right, I am happy anywhere in nature but it is the murmur of the sea that truly resonates with me. Maybe this is the answer I need, the last romantic adventure to bring me peace. To be with the sea, among the waves, dappled by the sun, arms outstretched to welcome the oneness that I can only find here.
Henro is anything but a thrill. Just getting to Shikoku and the place you left off at is a challenge. The pains of constant walking, not seeing any kind of water for hours; the frustrations can quickly mount. However, there are little rewards scattered along the way that you don’t expect: after hours of uninhabited mountain hiking in the distance a rooster cry, the rhythmic croaking of frogs in a marsh, a cat watching you from a rain gutter. The times you find nature soft and unconcerned with your frivolous worry, that’s the energy that keeps you on the trail.