Graduation from school brought with it the same feelings I have always gotten: joy from completing something I set my mind to do, anxiety for things that are out of my control (like anything related to the future), nostalgia for the beginning memories and anticipation for the wonderful things just over the horizon. It’s such a mixed bag of strong emotions. Kyoto is such a beautiful city with such interesting people and I have enjoyed living in my part of town with the view from the rooftop, the daily fire caller man who walks the streets chanting and striking his clappers together, the smells of delicious cooking food when I bicycle in the evenings, sitting by the river drinking a grape fizzy Mistio soda and bird or people watching, walking popular streets like Shijo or Teramachidori, paying my respects to temples and shrines…the list goes on and on. The sakura were starting to bloom as I was departing and that was also really special. We came full-circle, nature wise too. Sure there have been many challenges: Kyoto has extreme weather (for an Oregonian) in the summer and winter, I had troubles with my legs sitting seiza, school kept me incredibly busy, and just being far away from my family. I was elated to learn how wonder, delight and gratitude returned to my awareness in spades. Prior to this it was easy to be hung up by the daily plannings, dramas, technology-pitfalls, isolation, etc. It takes work to live a happier life, and tough choices and decisions.
Now I sit in the San Francisco airport, having departed from Kyoto. I was the last sempai to leave, the other three having already departed for Osaka and their flights home. It was wonderful to see them off. My kohai saw me off and I was grateful for that as well. They will become sempai and as I was leaving, there was a call that the first new kohai arrival was on her way. It’s fun how that happens.
I can’t sum up this year with just words. If you haven’t done this experience it’s impossible to explain. We each have our own wonderful stories to tell. I have so many stories and memories and things that I’ve worked out for myself that I will cherish for years to come. Besides these occasional musings, I wrote one page a day in a journal about my daily life at Midorikai. Perhaps I’ll revisit that for a project someday. The things that resonated with me, well, I hope and pray they will guide me and be present in my life. My enthusiasm keeps me deleting so much of what I want to say because I just feel that words are insufficient.
The four of us sempai sat around the gakuen kitchen table waiting to say thank you to the office (saying thank you before and after things is VERY important here), and we all agreed that we felt very lucky to have experienced this together, at this time, at this place and that we were so happy to have these memories, this shared time. We also have been there, we understand. It was like doing color guard in the drum corp or backpacking Europe. It’s difficult to understand or to talk about it if you weren’t there. I hope that with these brief writings you were able to glimpse, even briefly, this fabulous, zen world.
I will continue to learn and grow and focus on the things I learned here. Man, there sure are a lot of them. Thank you for reading!