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Saturday, August 16, 2008

life purpose

I feel a great responsibility to make the most of my life.

I've been blessed with good health. I've been blessed with a loving family.
I've been blessed with a wife who is love and light.
I've been blessed with many true friends.

I frequently find myself feeling like this. Feeling almost overwhelmed by fortune.

When this happens during daylight hours, when I'm out and about, I might pause and smile, and say thank you. I then resume whatever the task at hand is.

But when the feeling comes in the evening when I'm at rest, I find it fills my whole body, until I'm buzzing. I'm gripped by it.

And it gets me thinking - what is it that I need to do?

I don't believe that our lives have been mapped out for us. I strongly believe that we shape our own present through the decisions we make, both conscious and unconscious. But I also believe that it's not just us and our logical brains. I believe we have a guiding spirit within us all to help us choose the path that is right for us. We refer to that resource many times every day when listening to our inner feelings (not ego) when making decisions.

I also believe strongly in Synchronicity, I see it manifested in my life almost every day, and have come to trust in it.

However, at times I'm concerned that if I trust in synchronicity to too greater an extend, I could begin to resign myself to paths that I might otherwise proactively choose to branch from. For example, if i find myself in a 'bad' situation, I might say to myself, "It's ok - the reason will show itself in due course" and not make active attempts to end the badness, or avoid it in the future.

Well, whatever.

It's finding that balance, between acting in accordance with my own feelings, and acting in harmony with 'externals' that I attract into my life.

This all relates to my feeling of uneasiness in not 'knowing' where I'm heading next. The next two weeks are sorted (CELTA), and an undefined period after that is sorted too - I have a job at an English school in central Tokyo. But what about long term? I feel I need a clear idea of where I'm heading, what my role is to be. But how far do I push myself to decide, and to what extend do I trust that the right things will fall into place to guide me when the time comes?

Mind you, even as I write this I find myself saying, "Woah there Joseph. Let's have a look and see if we can learn anything from the last 30 years: hasn't everything always happened at just the right time? Haven't you always found yourself experiencing just what you need to experience at any particular point in life?"

Ah, yeah, that's a good point.

But OK, even if everything will work out for the best, what decisions do I need to make today?!

I go back to the feelings of fortune I expressed above, and I feel that I need to give a lot back in order to redress the balance. But how?

I hope that I can get a clearer idea when I'm with *Twinkle* again. She occupies a central place in my life, and I find that my thinking is really helped by talking about stuff with others.

(Which is why we have the daily mumble.)

I look forward to reading this in ten years. I wonder if I'll be any closer to finding the answers to these questions.

Night night. xxx

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Wednesday, April 16, 2008

A Whizz Boing Pop day


I find it astonishing (and at times disturbing!) how much detail my camera lens can pick up. My hand doesn't look so wrinkly to the naked eye, but an adjustment of the levels in the raw file shows the prints and lines in all their glory. I guess this is where photography is going now, especially with the advent of Nikon's incredible D3.

Got back into the daily exercise thing today. Up at 6.30am, out to the park to jog (and, er, take photos of the blossom. and my hand. that was a spur of the moment thing).



Then, at nine I took part in presenting for a CILASS IBL cafe (IBL = Inquiry based learning), a weekly event open to staff and students in which we present / discuss IBL related topics. Today we focused upon 'Being a CILASS Student Ambassador and Employability'. I won't say more about it here as I'll be blogging about it on the SA Network blog ...and I get paid to blog there! (I'll link to it when it's up). Really enjoyed that though. Lovely people I work with, wonderful start to the day.

Following that I popped along to the SEAS office having been summoned by email - they had a bottle of wine for me (and a timesheet!) to fill in following this year's open days, bless them. They are so kind. Only two weeks until a core member of the family leaves - I wonder how that will effect things?

Next it was on to a writing class, then translating literature from the 1950s. I am absolutely terrible at this, and for my last piece of coursework got my first ever 2:2 - with some of the categories seeing me down as far as a third. Whilst I enjoy reading the stories, when it comes to precise translation I am hopeless. The thing is, whist we have always had precise translation classes (at which I have always done pretty poorly) the general rule in everyday life is to go for the general meaning - and that's what I do. I think that's what we all do as humans really when we are unable to catch it all: we listen for familiarities and then fill in the blanks with our context-based knowledge. But you can't do that with precise translation. Whilst I was shocked when I got my feedback, I'm not upset about it at all. I just accept that this is not my strong point, appreciate that I have to try better next time, and move on (and not get a job which requires precise translations of 1950s Japanese novels).

Following that I went up to the healthfood shop Beanies to pick up my organic vegee box. I was in for a bit of a surprise there too as when I told the lady behind the counter my name so she could tick my box off, she said,
Oh, I know your name! My daughter was doing some research for something and found your blog. She told me about it as you'd mentioned us - and when I had a look I saw it was you!"


Back down the road and I discovered I'd accidentally kept hold of a key for some of the classrooms in the IC. I was a little bemused by this, why I had I done that? It all became clear when I got back to CILASS though, as Dr. N who runs the Case Studies project I participated in had just finished a meeting, and there was a fair bit of lovely italian food left over. Well, it would have been a shame to let it go to waste..!

Plate loaded down with the finest cheeses, pasta and pizza, I returned to a room in the bowels of the Octagon Centre where Japan soc was to meet a couple of hours later. No sooner had I sat down than *Twinkle* skyped me, and we talked, and talked.

It is such a treat to talk with her, makes me so happy. What I especially like is the way in which many conversations (like today's) become learning experiences. We really are pushing one another, each using our personal strengths to challenge one another's thinking. Makes it all so real, engaging, fun ...and makes me feel that I can't wait to be back together with her! 17th July is the day. Heathrow the place. She's so good for me; good job she's not seen through me yet...

Anyway, I've just realised that I've not written those two mini-japanese essays that are due in last week. I was going to write them this evening, but got carried away preparing the budget and other documents for Japan society - we hand over next week, and that will be it - my three years with them over :-(

It's been great though, what a fantastic learning experience. Thank you Japan soc.

so, er, yes, must sleep.

night night xxx

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Magical Jiggery Pokery



The random image thing on the right of this page is supposedly, er, random - so how can one account for things like the above happening? Here, I blogged about my mum's painting, and hey presto! It randomly appears on the right too! It's not as if it's unusual either, I've seen matches like that in the past, but the odds should be 14,762 to 1 (the number of images I have on Flickr).

Also, I know of friends who have reported random pictures of themselves showing up when they've checked the mumble, the chances of which are almost as slim as the above!

Is there magical jiggery pokery going on around here?

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Sunday, March 23, 2008

Norwegian Wood, Religious Weddings and the Canvas of Life


Latest addition to my mum's art portfolio

Fascinating, thrilling day today. It is so great to see family after such a long time.

I caught the tram at 6.30am, train down to Hereford, bus to Wormelow, car to Orcop. Thoroughly enjoyable journey. Not only did I get to indulge in one of all-time favourite hobbies -sewing patches on my jeans (and this was a MAJOR patch, handmade by my talented friend Suzie H a couple of years back, I've been saving it for such an occasion as today's), but also, I was able to indulge in listening to a new Audiobook - Norwegian Wood by Murakami. I've not read it before, but have long wanted to, knowing how much it is liked by so many of my friends. I absolutely loved 'Kafka on the Shore': I listened to that as I crossed the East China Sea, and found myself identifying with the characters as they made their own journey's West.

Whilst the narration of Norwegian Wood is not spellbinding in the way that that of Kafka was, I'm really enjoying the story nonetheless. I recognise the characters in people I know, the most prominent example being that of the upper-class womaniser destined to be a bureaucrat, who appears to me as the chap from Oxford university who made it to the final of the speech contest with me last month (to the right of me in this picture).



I did a bit of PC-doctoring today, getting my sister's webcam working for Skype (secret is to uninstall the Logitec software and let Skype handle the camera itself) which the boys liked (funny seeing yourself on screen for the first time!), and setting up iTunes so she can listen to some of the audiobooks I've purchased from Audible (you can license up to 3 computers to play your DRM-protected tracks).

Also talked about the wedding quite a bit, lots of good ideas emerging. It's going to be great.

One 'issue' that comes up for some people is this getting-married-in-a-church business. Neither *Twinkle* or I are particularly religious, and as you know, I am not too keen on traditional Christian notions of an almighty 'God' ...so why do I want to get married in a church?

Well, as with everything in life, a church wedding only carries the meaning that an individual chooses to assign to it. In Japan, 'church' weddings are popular (although the church is unlikely to be 'real' and the priest may well be a fake). I feel I have been somewhat influenced by the research I carried out on Japanese 'Christian weddings' in 2006/07, in that for me such a wedding does not necessarily have to relate to any religious tradition, and is really very appealing.

What others may label as "God" I feel is a nameless infinite source; love; an immense energy that fills us, that is us, and all of our surroundings.

Thus, a demonstration of my commitment to *Twinkle* in the 'presence of God' is for me, not a subscription to norms as laid out in holy texts, but rather, a powerful acknowledgement of our decision to commit to strive to bring our energies, our love, into flexible alignment.

There's other, somewhat more tangible reasons for having a church wedding too. I want to see my dream bride walk down the aisle in a beautiful white dress -it's in all the movies! I want the experience of church bells ringing overhead, confetti being thrown as we leave the church. I've been influenced by popular culture, and I want to live the dream.

I also feel that our parents would appreciate a church wedding. Perhaps here again I am influenced by Japanese customs I feel that our wedding is in a way as much an event for our families as it is for us.

Dad

I'm not sure I could have handled a church wedding a year or two ago, but the timing now is perfect.




It's been a tremendous day of synchronisity. I won't go into details here, but just to say that thoughts that have been circulating within my head have today been vocalised by two people close to me, quite out of the blue. It's all related to where do I go from here? Suddenly, concerns over employment after I return to Japan are made to seem like nothing but minor details that are sure to addressed through the natural unfolding of life.

These worries have been dwarfed by the appearance of this huge blank canvas that stretches out as far as the eye can see. In front of it is this incredible array of coloured materials and tools for their application. There's a sign there too. It reads:

Paint your future. Then Live it.


Aghh! I can't deal with that! Where's the colouring book with the numbered options: 1 for red, 2 for blue, 3 for green? Just choose your picture and fill in as prescribed. I know if I do that I'll succeed, everyone does!

...but a blank canvas?! You mean I can paint anything at all? ...But, I dunno what to paint! And what if I go wrong, what if I get the colours mixed up?

I must work to accept that it's only when artists move away from the colouring template that new colours are created by the mixing of the primaries, its only through experimentation that breakthroughs in style are made - and that it is these breakthroughs that bring great joy to artist and onlooker alike.

I've not been faced with such a huge canvas before. It keeps on getting bigger too as it is unrolled further by friends, by family, by books, by experiences. I understand that I'm being challenged to pick up one of the many tools before me and make my mark, but what tool I should use, and what colour should I apply?

It'll come to me. I know it will. I needn't be afraid because I will be guided by someone or something.

It's also important that I not feel I have to paint the whole picture with a single brushstroke - I'd never dare make that sweep from left to right! If I start small with little dabs, holding a clear idea of what I'm looking to create in my mind, with time the scene will emerge. I may accidentally put a splurge of red where green would be better suited, but that red will come to play an important part, perhaps a little poppy in the field of wheat.

Hmm, it's very exciting.

What's even more exciting though, is that in reality, we are all faced with this canvas, every single day.

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