Day 35: Inner Development and Solitude / by Sarah Kakusho

Today, I went to the Japanese Garden with Erika and another friend of mine from my program. We went today because we had heard that there was a Dondou Matsuri there. We’d never heard of it so we decided to check it out [that and we’ve been wanting to see the largest Japanese Garden outside of Japan]. The place was really serene and refreshing. I’ve decided that one day when I have a house, I will have a small Japanese Garden in my backyard.

Our visit got cut short because we got hungry and decided to eat outside the garden because the restaurant inside was kind of pricey…which in the end didn’t really make a difference because the place we ended up eating at was expensive. It was good food, though [even though we got charged table service…XP]. My friend left a little early, so Erika and I were going to places like the grocery store and office supply store. Haha, at one point we crossed the street before realizing we never checked if there was incoming traffic.

Luckily, we didn’t die.

Oh yea, we met a guy from northern Peru who was selling bracelets at the feria. He was talking about how he liked to surf and find information about this one game through traveling. He wanted to make a movie on the information he gathered. He was really chill. I’m glad there are still friendly faces of strangers that exist in this world. It seems that the more we advance we become more faceless and emotionless. This is what I thought about the U.S. before I left, but then I saw that here, too [I’m writing an essay about this so one day I’ll post it elsewhere for people to read].

This is the kind of day I needed after a day’s worth of practically staying inside. I calm, but productive day out with friends. I guess getting out of my little bubble is what my brain needed to circulate and organize the junk and thoughts in my head.

Standing on the concrete island in the middle of the 3-way, triangulated streets of Plaza Italia, staring at one of the Barneys waving to the kids that walked passed him, I had an epiphany.

I’d grown up.

As I waited for the crosswalk light to tell us to go, my entire childhood as if in slow-motion flashed before me. Barney. I used to watch Barney in the mornings before I attended school. And, people used to make fun of him when I started school, and I would lie and say I never watched him because I was afraid of being teased. Then later on, in middle school/high school, it used to be the talk of nostalgia, but I was still afraid to take part in that.

Afraid of being left out.

I realized today, that I’ve built this wall around me, a mental block that refused to let people in. I never really fit in when I was in grade school and got picked on quite a few times [I was never one to start up a conversation], so I always had my guard up since then. Today, I realized I’ve let that interfere with how I communicate with people. I used to let my assumption of how people would judge me take away the confidence to open up.

But on study abroad, you can’t be so guarded. I can’t change how people will initially think of me, but I can change how they will see me after I take the initiative to make that connection.

I’ve been so blind to the development of my own life. It makes me wonder sometimes just whose life exactly have I been living?

You know, we talk about growth as if it’s a physical or even mental phenomenon. I think I can finally say, in the past few years I was able to polish the more obvious things about me, like my outward attitude towards people, the way I deal with different situations and stuff like that. I was able to grow from the external struggles that were brought upon me. But, I think that’s a growth that’s much on a much shallower level.

From here on, it’ll be a growth that’ll be much deeper that’s so rooted within that we’re not conscious of it, a growth that allows our physical selves to connect to the innermost self on the most fundamental level.

It’s been a physically wearisome week, being sick and all, but I think as long as I’m still on a mental and emotional high, I’ll be okay. The song I picked for this week describes just how this week has been. Though I try to write more positively about my academics here, it’s hard and it’s definitely a struggle. In all honesty, it’s frustrating not understanding every word I hear.

But, it’s okay. I just remember just that much.

Makesou de nakisou de // Kieteshimaisou boku wa // Dare no kotoba wo shinji arukeba ii no? // Aa Makenaii de nakanai de // Kieteshimaisou na toki wa // Jibun no koe wo shinjiarukeba ii no // Itsu no jidai mo kanashimi mo // Sakete wa torenai keredo // Egao wo misete ima wo ikite yukou // Ima wo ikite yukou // Haikei kono tegami yondeiru anata ga // Shiawase na koto wo negaimasu

“Seems like I’m about to be defeated and cry // For someone who’s seemingly about to disappear // Whose words should I believe in? // Please don’t be defeated and please don’t shed a tear // During these times when you’re seemingly about to disappear // Just believe in your own voice // No matter what era we’re in // There’s no running away from sorrow // So show your smile, and go on living the present // Go on living the present // Dear you // Who’s reading this letter // I wish you happiness” – “Tegami” by Angela Aki

End – Week 5: On Becoming a Filmmaker