Yesterday, suddenly, I remembered why I quit my job in NY and eventually came to live in Japan. And how I learned about my heart’s wayward behavior.
I remembered that one day I was at my desk in Midtown Manhattan, looking around at the people I spent day after day for 7 years looking at, and suddenly I realized I didn’t really know any of them.
It might have been a reaction from the sensimilla I’d smoked that morning while I was getting dressed, but I didn’t think so. Sometimes I took a few totes before work to take the edge off.
I do however remember that I felt like I existed but I wasn’t alive, just watching my life through my eyes, experiencing it vicariously through some stranger who was using me for some purpose, neither good nor evil, light nor dark…in fact, it seemed quite normal. Like this was the way it was supposed to be. And everyone around me was in on the fix or similarly had front row seats to their own lives, unwilling or unable to affect change.
It scared the shit outta me, it did.
I wanted to live again. I would put in my 2-weeks notice the next day.
That night, while I was typing my notice up, trying to find just the right way to kiss off a job while I was on top of my game (I was one of the top salesmen, definitely being groomed for management), I panicked. I had been procrastinating about making such a move for the past couple of years. A five-figure bonus for an outstanding year was due the following week. I’d saved up a nest egg in anticipation of finding the huevos to do it. And if that weren’t enough of an incentive, I’d even written a novel and found an agent of some notoriety with an outstanding track record. By all appearances I was not making a mistake, I was not about to undertake something I would spend years regretting. I was making a change the way wise people make changes: with forethought and preparation.
But, apparently, my heart hadn’t gotten the memo because it was racing like I’d just pulled a Tony Montana and hoovered up a mound of cocaine, reminding me of how stable I currently was, how comfortable I had become with a steady income, toys at my disposal, a circle of support filled with friends and family nearby, a girl or two poised to make a commitment to accompany me on my path to greatness. I snapped aloud, “What the fuck am I doing???” fell to my knees and prayed.
My christian roots tend to find their way to the surface when I have a crisis though I’ve rarely found my way to a church.
I knelled before my queen-sized cherry sleigh bed with the posture-pedic mattress, fingers clasped, head bowed, mind and soul open to answers from the powers that be, from the Creator I wholeheartedly believe was looking out for me, and waited.
He (or She) didn’t answer.
Someone once told me that coincidence is the The Creator’s way of remaining incognito. I waited for a coincidence.
There was silence in my bedroom. Nothing but the buzz of the fluorescent light above and groans of the century old Brownstone I lived in and my heart. I broke the silence:
“If I’m doing the right thing, Lord, don’t say anything. ”
The Creator, in his consummate wisdom, said nothing. No coincidences occurred either. I didn’t suddenly receive an email. The phone didn’t ring with some caller bearing an ominous message vaguely connected to my plight. The door bell didn’t ring prompted by a visitor with a message of ye or nay, little to his or her knowledge. Not even a bird budged outside the window, or called out in that Avian language of theirs that I seem to understand at moments like these. It was the kind of silence that only the Creator could produce, I told myself as I rose, sat at my computer and completed the notice.
Flash forward to today.
I woke up this morning feeling lonely. Friends and family are far away, literally, emotionally, physically…I hardly know them anymore. Actually I’ve been waking feeling this way quite a bit lately.
It’s a phase, I know. I’ve been here before. It’s not homesickness. I hold no more illusions about where and what home is. The cliche is true. Home is where your heart is. The problem is, where’s my heart? It’s not in NY. It’s not in Yokohama. And, most surprisingly, it’s not inside of me where it ought to be. It’s on a walkabout perhaps. Left me to my own devices for a spell. It does this from time to time. A little heart appreciation period I presume. And during these periods I am quite inconsolable. Unreachable. I survive on heart memory. I go through the motions of having a heart, which is unfortunately enough for the people I know here in Japan. They don’t know me. maybe some of the more perceptive of them can see through the amiability and passivity I display during these heart-free periods, but most adore me nonetheless.
They don’t know me. Nobody knows me. But, it’s ok. Who really knows anybody anyway?
My heart has been MIA for a few weeks now. I really don’t mind him taking off like this. Only, when he does, the major drawback is: Writing becomes a chore because I write from my heart. When I can’t write I feel useless. It’s hard to forgive my heart (and myself) for putting me through this.
So, I spend my days alone going through the motions with my Japanese friends and colleagues; watching them. Everything appears to be on the surface. Hon’ne and Tatamae aside, there’s an artlessness about them that I’ve only experienced with real friends and yet these are people I don’t really even know. There’s an openness and a vulnerability that I feel totally undeserving of. I have never experienced such artlessness. I am always crafty, tricksy. I always feel the need to be careful, to secure my heart. But, when my heart is on one of its walkabouts I am worse. I have no heart to share with my friends. I only have platitudes and the verbal equivalent of flatulence.
It’s enough to make you afraid. Sometimes, if you let it, if you’re weak or vulnerable or predisposed, it’s enough to make you hate.
It was enough to make me think about those co-workers I deserted 6 years ago back in NY. And the feelings that prompted my flight to Asia.
Someone once told me, “You can’t run from yourself. Cuz, everywhere you go, there you are.”
They never told me my heart could run from me, though.
While my hearts away, I spend my time occupying my mind with mind-numbing stuff…reading novels, watching TV, overeating, overdrinking, over-smoking and over-analyzing everything to the point when the point of the analysis becomes moot or exaggerated beyond recognition. Colds feel like cancer. Hangovers feel like Leukemia. The city feels like a Jungle. Home feels like a cave or a sanctuary or a monastery. Nothing I think or feel is worthy of being recorded in any way, especially in writing. Not while I’m going through the motions of being a real person.
But, I’ve been down this road before, and I know when my heart will be back. It’s waiting for my call. It comes when I really need it or rather when I demand it through action. Its obedience is absolute. Its allegiance is unquestionable. It only leaves because I want it to go. When I need time away from it; time to see the world without feeling the world. Time to collect myself, my thoughts, my energy. Time to appreciate time, to remind myself of the gift each day is…
And then, one morning, I’ll be walking down the street, and an idea will pop into my head…not a brilliant idea, just an idea, one with promise. And, I won’t lay it to the side to be addressed later, I’ll stop wherever I might be and whip out my handy pen & pad, or rush into the nearest cafe to grab a seat, a cup of Joe, and jot it down, or, like today, upon reaching my office, head directly to the computer and begin writing a text message (in the form of this post) to my heart telling him it’s time that he came home, with utter certainty that he would soon be here.
Welcome back. You are forgiven!