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.

Declared goal: Pack light

I will test-pack today.

I started to aim for minimalism when I first moved to Japan in 2010. We cleared out our flat, so everything except for very few precious memories had to go. I freecycled a lot in preparation for the trip. Since then moving countries and homes kept me from accumulating a lot of clutter, but I still am far away from minimalism. Especially trying to create a mini-Japan in the four walls of my home office led to cluttering and keeping stuff purely the sake of memory. I have started de-cluttering again a few weeks ago, but am far away from minimalism.

I find packing unnerving – I want to go minimalist, it is my declared ideal. But then I have the fear of missing something. And when I see what a minimalist travel bag looks like and how much stuff I intend to carry with me, I am shocked and beat myself up over it. The big ‘WHAT IF?’, the big fear of missing something, of coming off as unprepared. I love being prepared. When I was maybe ten years old, I read Michael Ende’s Momo. Momo is a girl, she is parent-less and has a coat much to big for her “…and goodness only knew if she would ever find another jacket as useful as this one, with all its many pockets.” She had everything she needed in these pockets. This made a big impression on me. 

What I found though is that carrying around a lot of stuff costs energy, AND you cannot be sure to have everything you will need.

My go-to site for everything minimalist is zenhabits. I also googled minimalist packing and found great inspiration in this blog post and video:

I would sure love to go with nothing more than a backpack. I will not be travelling, but living and working during the time. So I will add clothes for working, a set of business clothes and stuff I know I cannot get in Japan (special dental rinse), two books and, as customary in Japan, omiyage (mostly chocolate as a present to friends and people that will take care of me).

Let’s see how it goes. I will report back.