I leave home and make my way to the main district, I need to arrange papers, and to sign others. I haven’t arrived yet, but I know all this will take me hours, as bureaucracy always do. It is cold but sunny so the streets are not as silent as I initially thought.
But before I arrive at the office, I found these beautiful leaves of striking colours waiting for me as if wishing me good luck. I love their colours, and contrast. I take pictures, and I start thinking that my Japanese journey has taught me to adapt, to understand (or at least to try), to listen, to be happy in the moment, to treasure the opportunities, and never to eat while walking even if it is an apple 😂
And above all, my Japanese journey has taught me to change as these leaves do with the seasons. I have lots to thank for it. And, as these beautiful leaves, I hope my own colours has become stronger and more open to change than before.
Some days life gets to you, some days are harder than others, some days seem worthless and dry. On those days, you feel like you should just stop searching for that sparkle that makes you feel alive. And then without any warning, you come across the most beautiful of skies.
And then you realize that there’s more in life than just you, and your problems. There is also beauty, hope, and thousand of blessings crossing your path. Every breath, every beat of your heart is a sign that you are fine and that whatever is bothering and upsetting you now will pass. The journey is hard at times, but there are also good times. It all depends on us. Are the clouds bringing rain? Or are they here to bring us joy?
I turn around and I see the time “5:55.” I have managed to sleep a few hours, and yet they are not enough. I need to recover my strength, but my eyes are already wide open, and when my eyes are open like this, there is little I can do but to let the motions of the day start. “The routine” drags me out of bed, and takes me to the bathroom.
I look at myself in the mirror and the mirror stares back at me smiling. I go back to the room, and I see my body lying on the bed peacefully sleeping waiting for me to return to it. Maybe, I am not awake after all.
A couple of months ago I received a great work opportunity. But I knew taking the job would mean working my fingers to the bone for a few months, how did I know that? Well, let just say that I just know how the dragons fly in this part of the world.
In this new job, I had to speak Japanese and explain things in Japanese to a certain group of students who like me arrived in these islands to learn, to live, to work and to forge a new future for themselves. Yes, immigrants like myself. Helping immigrants to start their lives and to improve their skills to work in Japan. What a great opportunity!! I just simply had to take the job. And I did. I took it.
There are young people from many parts of the world: Vietnam, Nepal, India, Uzbekistan, Cambodia, Nepal and so many others I can’t even recall them now. It’s being a learning curve for me. But I have enjoyed the ride of this particular dragon. Because this dragon was unknown, wild, unwelcoming, and untamed. Moreover, this dragon has given me the opportunity to help immigrants like me, who don’t know how to start their lives in this new place but who, at the same time, have great hopes for the future. And have proven, once more, that immigrants are a force for good.
Tonight, it started raining suddenly. And in the blink of an eye, the sky broke into thousands drops that showered us all, making us shiver and looked for refuge in the busy streets of this metropolis. I ran trying to scape it. But it was in vain, my clothes resembled the wet streets, and my shoes got heavier than the asphalt with every step. Unbelievably, there were couples taking pictures of themselves in the middle of the chaos. At times, it seems like love is not only blind but creates a fortress that shields us from adversity.
But tonight, although, I’m not alone, I feel like I’m carrying the weight of the world on my shoulders. Why? Well, sometimes that how life goes. But then a drop of rain on my cheeks reminds me that the rain has always been a good omen for me. It announces changes. Good changes. And against all the odds, the rain is bringing me hope in this cold night. The rain is telling me that trying days are ahead, but it all works out in the end. I just have to be patient and not to succumb to past ghosts. And I hope the rain brings you peace, comfort and renewed faith in your future.
I look at the screen in utter horror. The draft of my newest novella “The nun and the prostitute” is gone. My brain is screaming thousand swearing words unknown to me, “How do I know so many bad words,” I ask to myself.My shaking hands type again, and error comes out like the unavoidable curse that has fallen on me and my computer. “It’s got to be somewhere,” I tell to myself trying to remain calm. I log into various accounts, clouds, and alternative boxes and nothing “How did this happen?,” I scream at the computer. And again error. Tears come to my eyes but I refuse to give up, and go old school and take a look at abandoned USBs. The first USB only brings more disappointment. The story repeats itself with the second, and the third USB I check. And the last one, the one I named “Kuro” (black in Japanese) brings almost no hope because this USB comes with me everywhere, to my classes, to my lectures, to my business trips. I know what’s in there, and what it isn’t.
But I decided to check it anyway. And to my surprise, there is an old copy, only 22 pages, almost a fifth of the final version. “Better than nothing,” I console myself. I decide to keep checking just in case, I click in an old folder and there, shining like, an oasis in the desert, is a PDF version with all 98 pages of it. The whole novella!!!!!!!!!!!!!!! The characters and I cried of happiness. We’re together again. I found what was lost. Or better say, the characters found me again. I’m home. And kuro, the hero, takes a well-deserved rest.
The airplane took off leaving Tokyo; taking me with it, and my expectations about Taiwan. I had done my research. I always do, I mean since I am an obsessive-compulsive reader, it’s not a surprise that I read everything I could possibly read about Taiwan. But what I hadn’t done were hotel reservations, that’s right ladies and gentlemen, this traveler doesn’t like making hotel reservations. Before you condemn me, hear me out, because I have valid, if not, strong reasons to not make hotel reservations
1.- I want to go to the places, where tourist doesn’t usually go; and don’t want the travelers’ websites to tell me where to go. I want to discover my journey on my own. 2.- I want to search and look for the city treasures as soon as I land. 3.- I want to get to know the locals and talk to them; not as a customer/tourist but as one of them. And nothing better than getting utterly lost to do this 🙂 4.- I love the adventure.
I know this might sound illogical for some people, but one of the reasons why I learned some much other cultures is that I always tried experiencing the country as one of them, not as an outsider but as a local. And arriving at a hotel makes it difficult for me to achieve this.
I know, I know this might sound strange for some (ok maybe for most of you), but it works for me. However, I have to admit that I regretted my decision when it started to rain; and the heavy drops began pouring on the English man, who bravely accompanied me in this adventure and me. He needed refuge and candidly asked me “Where did you say we were staying,?” he asked hopefully.
And it broke my heart to answer “I haven’t made any reservations, remember?,” I said awkwardly.
The disappointment darkened his blue eyes making them as gray as the sky above us. I could literally see his hopes shattering with every drop of rain that fell on him. And the sting of guiltiness pierced my heart.
Yes, I felt guilty.
But as always lucky was on our side, we found a warm, dry shelter for our tired souls and hungry bodies. We found a hotel within walking distance that promised us the experience of our lives at a reasonable price. Once the English man recovered, we started exploring the city, getting lost together in the tropical night of Taiwan.
The English man smiles, and I felt the universe in my heart.
Traveling is a unique way to reconnect with old friends, and it was that in this way we met an old friend of ours: Chunghsuan Lan (藍仲軒) original from Taiwan, Lan has spent time overseas, and during his residency at 331ArtsChiyoda (Japan) we had the opportunity to know him and his provocative art. But as Lan’s devotion to the arts it’s his life, love, and ultimate ambition; he invited us to visit Each Modern Gallery and to meet his colleagues, Sean and Murphy.
And also gave us a personal tour of the gallery allowing me and my camera to rejoice in the beauty of art.
But certainly the best part of this amazing meeting was to catch up with Lan
Life has been hectic these last few months, so my stories had to wait for me, my drawings were suddenly abandoned in dark draws. But life is returning to its normal rhythm. I’m neither extremely busy nor static; I’m in balance. And once the balance is restored to my world, the drawings jump out of the draws searching for light. And here’s just some of the drawings I’ve entertained myself with the last few hours of this beautiful, peaceful morning.