Thursday, October 3, 2013

last days in osaka

The river runs through Osaka city. Nakanoshima park and island to the right. 

Two more teaching days in Osaka. Almost 9 weeks. How quickly time moves, it flows as if it were a river moving towards the sea. And for the two months here, I've been watching it go by, its source, somewhere upriver, a place of unending rainfall.

From here, though, there is no indication of weathering storminess, not anymore. Just steadily flowing time. There is no holding it, no way of pausing it just for, at least, a tiny little moment. All there is to do is to simply flow with it; move with it now, until it moors me into the next bit of shoreline. 

So these are my last days in this bustling urban metropolis, Japan’s second largest city. I meant to take a train today for sightseeing at near-ish Himeji, but in the end, I couldn’t leave the city, which I am already starting to miss.

Hipster haven: Brooklyn Roasting Company, Osaka branch.
So today, I’m on my borrowed bicycle, riding around in my borrowed city, navigating with surprising ease between districts to eat, chill, and run crucial final errands.

Now, I’m in my favorite hipster hang out, Brooklyn Roasting Company, having a much needed free-trade iced soy latte (I did say it was hip!) and feeling quite at home with the Japanese cool kids. This is just one of the many places I’d like to make one last stop at.  Taking a moment to write and recap the last two months before I get on the road again, before the thought gets lost in the whirling wonder of life at play.

I meant to write more--story of my life really, this meaning to write business—about Osaka, about the adventure of being in Japan, about this new phase of my life teaching on the road, about the everyday blessings and the surprising gifts of manifestation.  And while there were a number of things and events that undermined that, I also know that this time has been more about “being.”

And Osaka has been an incredible filling station.

Mysore class in Spirit Yoga School where I've been teaching.
If the village of Vio in the Monte Perdido (or Lost Mountain) National Park in the Araganese Pyranees—where I spent 8 weeks prior to Japan—was a place of feeling the deep chasms and caves, the peaks and the valleys of myself, then Osaka is where I filled up these great empty spaces with fulfilling work, with wonderful students, with new experiences, with yoga practice, with good food, with steady loving friendships, with good cheerful fun and doing things that I enjoy doing, and with—and this has been most key—simply being myself.

It took a little bit of time to get off the old train of thought, the tracks leading to nowhere, to arrive and be present in Osaka. But this subtle city eased me slowly into the now. Day by day, as I cycled around its streets, as I sampled its delicious delicacies, as I was awed by the strangeness and uniqueness that is Japan and as I was met with the reserved sweetness of the local people, I found a deep sense of happiness. 

Goofy post-practice
self portrait. 
Without any of the old stories, old characters, in a whole new job in a whole country, I got to ask myself that crucial question: who the heck am I?

I won't go into the answers to the question, none of which really matters anyway, what matters is that things do shift. Negative feelings dissipate. Shadows fade in the light. 

Osaka, known as the food capital of Japan, lives up to its reputation. It nourished me so exquisitely in Japanese fashion, with remarkable efficiency and orderliness, with quality ingredients, with its own kind of quirkiness and aesthetics.

It’s been a very special time of self-recovery and self-recognition, of surrendering into the great what is.  The Big O has facilitated this recent bit of transformation. I recognize that this is just one stop in a long journey.  And how things, myself included, fall apart only so that they can be put back together--hopefully, each time it happens--better than ever.

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