Troglodyte

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Animal tracks highlighted in the snow just after an ice storm, Mikuni Pass, Shizuoka, Japan, 1993.

I want to apologize to everyone who drops by here for not being around for a long while. This time of the year always gets to me, especially since I live far away from my family and I haven’t seen them in years. Not only does the Christmas season just have no counterpart here in Japan, seeing that it is quite hard to really get close to Japanese people, to be accepted as one of them, I also end up spending a lot of time alone, most especially during this season.

I don’t like to share the more personal aspects of my private life here on the blog, in part to protect people who are important to me, but also because I believe that some things ought not to be handed out to just anybody. There are some things going on in my life that I try to glaze over here, but they are big things that seem even bigger during the holiday season. Since it will be yet another Christmas and New Year’s alone I’ve been trying to compensate by pulling away from the blog a while, so as not to think so much. With 2 weeks vacation ahead of me it would be better if I got out of the house and cleared my head a little.

One thing that has been bothering me again is the effect of blogging on my time and my mental life. When I last put an entry in it had gotten to the point where any idea I happened upon or even some small anecdote in my day would immediately translate into how I could use it in an article in the blog. I even dreamed of topics and ways to write sentences in my sleep!

I knew then that I had to break away, if just to quiet the noise in my head so that I could open my eyes and see the world around me, not the computer screen. With quite a period behind me now I can say that my mind is quiet again and I’m taking time to get out there.

I know that the tendency to immerse myself in the blog rises out of too much time alone and no friends. When you find yourself wandering the city streets, feeling lost, constantly whispering to yourself that you will be okay, then the voices that surround you in the blog world offer great comfort. All of you out there who have grown into something approximating friendship, thank you.

So I must strike a balance, continue to release the words that well up in me for this ephemeral place, and to get out there and find my home. I can’t continue to live like this. I must find substantiation.

I hope everyone is finding their way through the holidays. To those who are lucky enough to wrap themselves in a winter warmth, cherish it and give it to whoever else needs it. To those who suffer a kind of silent grief, hold on. The darkness will pass. And don’t forget to look up and let the fabric of your spirit clear itself among those clean, untouched stars. These long nights allow us a window into whole of our world and all its possibilities.

Good night.

25 Responses

  1. Thanks. I know how you feel: I’m “Ditto”.

  2. Even those of us who are surrounded by snow and the semblance of Christmas loveliness have our private sorrows and inner struggles. I, too, keep most of my private life out of my blog, for the same reasons you mention. In some ways, that’s probably not helpful because it may give the impression sometimes that “I’m OK” while others are not feeling OK. I think nearly all of us in this community are prone to depression, self-analysis and criticism, and are highly sensitive to the world and vulnerable to its pain as well as our own. The fact that we come together is a gift, and while we can’t hug each other or sit down over coffee or walk in the woods, it IS real friendship, just of a new kind. I’m very grateful for yours!

  3. Butuki: Beth always puts these things in just the right way. Numenius and I spent our Christmas lunch in a Chinese restaurant yesterday wondering, as we often do, where we might move to in the world as we seem to be drifting alienatingly far away from what passes as mainstream in the United States… the latest bout was triggered by an unconstructively long discussion with relatives the night before about the death penalty and the fact that the United States is far more to the left of where it was in the 30s (actually, I don’t doubt this), and that this current move to the right is merely a “correction” from the aberrational 60s. I don’t belong here. Neither does Numenius, although he grew up here. So the long discussion begins afresh: where might we belong?

    Seems this time of year is full of questions like this and others like it — such as “how might we belong” — and I do sincerely hope that you will consider some of us (not all, certainly) to be “real” friends in the sense Beth describes. I do, however, wish Japan weren’t so far away and so difficult to get to given the amount of time I’m able to take off and the other places around the globe that pull at me with greater insistence.

  4. you’ve been missed. I wondered what had happened to you and now I’m happy you’re back.

    “This too shall pass” is an adage I’ve come to believe even though I had times when I thought it was just sappy nonsense. But, it’s true.

    I worry that you may give up on your blog writing. I do a lot of surfing and I think very highly of your writing. So what if it takes a front page in your thinking mind? Things change. Next year maybe you have a new passion. Golf maybe. Nah, not golf.

    I have a friend, former roommate in graduate school who lived in Japan for about 15-years.
    He had a very active life, teaching English at a university, married a Japanese woman, had a son born there, etc. But he never thought of it as home. Found the Japanese cold and distant and eventually returned to the States, he said, for his children’s sake.

    But, believe me, it’s possible to be lonely and sad in the USA too.

    Please, keep writing. Don’t bother sorting out your sentences at night when you should be sleeping. You do however come up with some beautiful sentences. Is that how you do it?

    Ciao

  5. Dear Miguel,
    What Beth says, is exactly what I would say (but I wouldn’t have found the words to say it the way she can so well).
    I wish I could give you a magical solution to make blogging solely a positive experience for you instead of one that gives you a lot of stress at night. The ironic thing is, all you give to others with your writings, are good things. We all feel inspired when visiting your blog.

    My Christmas is a positive one, because I’ve been in the deepest hole I’d ever been in the last few months. But don’t let us, shiny happy christmas bloggers fool you by telling we’re thoroughly happy and satisfied. You are not alone. And if it was so that we’d all live around your corner there in Japan, we’d come over for a coffee and talks, like Beth says. That would be so nice.
    Love,
    Anne

  6. Thanks, everyone, truly, for your warmth and concern. If ever there were unsounded voices that I could hear (maybe I’m losing my mind? *lol*) yours are what they would sound like. It’s a strange and uplifting feeling to hear them from the other side of the globe. I try to imagine these lights winking on in a vast, black sea below, messengers tapping morse code into the void, and the vibrations meeting while others sleep. We are the eyes and ears of a community of listeners, echoing each other’s hopes and fears.

  7. Peace and companionship to you, Miguel. The days are getting longer now, and light is coming back.

  8. With grazed knees and bloody nose I link my arm through yours and am thankful that I find a companion for the journey when I look in your heart.

    The recognition of another yearning heart is something that this technology cannot hide or impede, to walk with a companion who I have never ‘met’, may never really link arms with or share a hill top view or laughter as we slide down that scree covered hill is truly one of the wonders that I give thanks for.

    Midst the lives of quiet desperation that we all lead far more of the time than we may admit on a log it is in the heart we hear and feel echo of the light so no wonder,in our hearts, that we catch glimpse of the light in others too, thank you for being one of those others for me.

    May possibility and wonder fill your heart in the days ahead and the knowledge that there are many of us looking up at the stars too give you sense of companionship even in the lonliest moments. Love and light.

  9. I’m glad you’re back. I missed you.

  10. Troglodyte mantra:
    My name is BERTHA BUTT, one of the BUTT sisters,,, MOVE!

    Welcome back, Miguel

  11. Welcome back, Miguel. I’ve been looking almost every day to see if you’re there. We all miss you when you’re gone, but of course you should take the time away if that’s what you need. I hope you will find your place where you feel at home.

    I just flew back from spending several days with my family at my brother’s house and let me tell you you can feel like an alien in your own family. I haven’t yet figured out how much I can write about it.

    It’s nice to know there are other sensitive people out there struggling to connect and be heard in the face of an insensitive world. I hope we will continue to hear your voice.

  12. It’s great to see you back here, Miguel … Christmas is a hard season for many, and as Beth has put it so well, there are many “private sorrows” in those snow-laden idyllic landscapes of hearth and home aglow in unearthly light. I understand your worries about the blog taking over your life … and you must listen to your inner voice when it comes to counsel, but you must know that you are not alone in this “new” community of friends who, although they can’t rush over and have a quick cup of coffee with you, are still there for you to offer you company and a virtual shoulder to lean on.

    And, with the longest night of the year behind us, as Pascale pointed out, “the light is coming back.”

  13. I’d like to echo Beth’s comments above, and also add that, in a sense, this weblog may be becoming your home Butuki, which would explain why it occupies so much of your thinking. I hope 2004 sees Laughing Knees continuing to develop and try new things. I, for one, would be very disappointed if it didn’t.

  14. Miguel,
    I know what you mean about the blog. I have felt sometimes that it occupies too central a place in my own thinking. For now though I am going to let it, as long as it does not interfere with relationships. I know that it has cut in to some other things that I like to do but I enjoy it. Sometimes it is good to take a break and clear the mine though.

  15. Butuki:

    I have been looking, and looking, and looking for you. Thanks for coming back!

    ‘berta

  16. Happy New Year, Butuki. Wishing you joy in some of the smaller and the larger things. Thanks for providing me with so many wonderful and helpful things from your weblog over the last year. Take care.

  17. Life is all about keeping the balance so I encourage you to maintain it in your life. If it means that we miss you for a couple of days…so be it. Know that at least I understand. All my best for a new year for you and yours. Marie

  18. I’m sorry you’re in a valley right now. You seem like a strong, healthy individual, who if you continue on your life path, will soon find yourself on the upslope. The most depressing Christmas I ever spent was as a freshman at West Point forty years ago. We “plebes” weren’t allowed to return home for Christmas vacation. From my present perspective, I realize I could have created a wonderful experience out of that time, but I didn’t have that attitude then. Years later, I spent Christmas eve on a night ambush in Vietnam. Curiously, I don’t recall any sad feelings; I guess I accepted what was happening to me and was just glad to still be alive. In any case, your moves toward balance in your life seem like a healthy instinct. I value your posts and look forward to reading them whenever you write again.

  19. I wanted for days to say something in response to this post. Correct words won’t come. Instead, 5 hours after the countdown, as I count my blessings, I just want to say, Happy New Year, Miguel. Your words are among those blessings I enumerate, and I’m glad you have taken the time to share them. Thank you.

  20. What talent, beauty, and depth of spirit reside in the spaces you’ve created here! The world you bring to us with your words, photos and drawings enriches our spirit and allows us to connect, however ephemeral, with awe.

    Happy New Year!

  21. I want to thank everyone who responded to you, and to you, Miguel. wMy husband and I lived in Ireland for a year, and I was very lonely (pre-internet days), because it is the way of the world to see others (outsiders) as others/outsiders, and friendliness often ends at the front gate. The Irish were very sociable and friendly-seeming, but it was so hard to really connect. The days were very short in the winter, and the US was gearing up for the first Gulf War (we could watch it all on TV). I started feeling suicidal there, and I don’t usually have those tendendies, but I felt complete despair at times.. My husband is Parisian-born and bred and he says that he has always been an outsider here in the States. But when someone like you tells his truth (and the total truth is hard in the blogosphere), if helps me to connect to you. So thanks for your willingness.

  22. this is my first visit to your blog, so thank you for letting me take a peek into your world

    Your words spoke to me in a personal way, and based on what I see in the comments, you apparently connect with many. Yet you are alone, which sounds very familiar to me. I often find that people reach out towards me because they hear a sympathetic ear, or an empathetic voice, or simply someone who listens, or helps them to laugh at life, or someone who is willing to share something of themselves.

    They reach out towards me, and I respond, but even during this exchange I never lose sight of the fact that I am alone. Isolated and removed. An island within a world populated by millions.

    Follow your instincts. Pull away when the exchange is taking you away from life, or when the cost becomes too high. I haven’t actually engaged in life for a while now, so I have no point of reference to share with you. Sure, I go to work and have to deal with grocery shopping and such, but in reality, my world has shrunk to an area so small that I barely fit in it at all anymore.

    In my case, for today, the blogging community is expanding my world. There is a fine balance between expanding my world and giving me license to continue hiding, correct? But for today, I let the world in, like a sliver of light, by visiting blog sites and peeking into real lives being lived.

    Thanks for letting me stop by. Follow your heart, and keep your balance. Some of us might even benefit from seeing your journey. Hopefully, some of us might also light the way for you. Blogging is a different sort of community, but a village of people, just the same.

  23. nTexas… we are all of us alone, always. But we are also never really alone, I guess, if you try to look at it differently. When I get down and lonely recently I’ve begun cheering myself up by looking at myself as two people together, sort of like smiling at myself in the mirror. It makes for lots of episodes of babbling to myself, but if you can learn to like that person in the mirror instead of getting angry at them, then your loneliness feels more like self-acceptance and you can get through, and enjoy, even the most isolated periods.

    Take a look at Beth’s take on loneliness and being alone. She has great insight and a wonderful way of expressing the wisdom of how to deal with it.

  24. I will go over and visit Beth as well, as I’ve seen some other posts by her that have sparked my interest. I like to visit new people when my eyes and ears are open, so I will save it for a bit and look forward to seeing her take on life, and loneliness.

    I appreciate your comment/response, and perhaps I should say that perhaps my words carried more melancholy than I meant to project. Most of the time I’m fairly comfortable being alone (and, as you said, I’m never REALLY alone). I kind of look at it this way — my vision of what my life would look like didn’t include being alone, but alone is where I find myself. I’m beginning, more and more, to be comfortable with that. I can appreciate the things about it that are perks. I can savor the quiet, and even look forward to the solitude at times. Yet I suppose some part of me still yearns for human contact. Of course, that would require action on my part.

    Therein is the challenge … is my path to build a place of acceptance at the state of aloneness I find myself in, or is my path to step back out into the world and connect on a personal level with people again? Only time will answer that.

    Thank you again for the comment, and most especially for allowing me to lurk about and begin absorbing the thoughts expressed in your blog. Time is my enemy sometimes, as I wish I had more of it to peruse more often. But you can be sure I’ll be back again when time allows!

  25. Hello……I am Basha’s sister. I have linked on to your blog many times through Basha. I find your writing fascinating, your thinking very deep and I love your pictures. I equate myself with you as I am also alone on the holidays, my 2 sons and the rest of my family living in other states. I do have to work on some holidays so that keeps my mind off of being alone. On the holidays that I don’t work, I usually take off with my camera as I find that there are very few people out and about and very little traffic on holidays & therefore I can usually get some good photos, then I’ll come home and make a special dinner……this year on Christmas I splurged on a lobster (not cheap where I live) and enjoyed every bit of it!
    I have come to the conclusion over the years that it is ok to be alone as long as long as you don’t feel lonely- make the best of your time, do what pleases you, know that your friends and family love you and be at peace with yourself.
    I look forward to reading more of your blog.
    Dottie

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