Day Zero – Why am I on this plane?

Today, I opened my diary for the first time since I returned from Japan 11 weeks ago. It helped me to travel back in time and although I don’t recall a lot of details of the flight, I can certainly feel how I felt then and there.

Notebook 1.2

So now I am sitting on the plane, the engines are running and we are literally in… the… air… now. […]

As I blow into the nozzle of my inflatable travel pillow, I am asking myself what I am doing here. It won’t be the last time. The honest answer is: I don’t know.

It is a sunny SF morning, the SF bay is blue & beautiful… I see a container ship, emtpy. San Mateo Bridge.

Anyway, this time I am less excited than usually when travelling to Japan. Why? It is a big thing! It is my dream come true. Or what I think my dream is.

All I knew is that it would be a different world. And it began with a feeling I’ve never had before:

Notebook 2

This feels like a real journey, like real travelling. It is a journey, a path and I don’t know what to expect. All I can do is take the next step. And another one.

I’d like to think that the medieval garden designer and Zen monk Muso Soseki (夢窓疎石, 1275-1351) is likely to have felt the same way before leaving on one of his many foot pilgrimages through the forests and back roads of Japan.

You can read more about him in the book “A Zen Life in Nature” by Andrew Keir Davidson. I highly recommend it, I think it is one of the best books about medieval Japan.

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Arranging my thoughts (and chapters)

I made a post-it for every day of writing (roughly 250-400 words) and arranged them by topic on one big sheet of cardboard.

Arranging my thoughts and chapters - 90 days in Kyoto

I suddenly think that the seemingly marginal topics (they are in fact marginal on my poster) like “Tradition & Apprenticeship” and “Onko-chishin” could have more potential than the descriptions to my favorite gardens in Kyoto. These are the things I would want to read more about. But they are also a lot harder to write about without getting overly romantic and summon cheesy clichés.

Arranging my thoughts and chapters - 90 days in Kyoto - marginal topics