itchy feet, balm only partially effective.

i just decided not to go to japan. i know, i know: i never told anyone that i was going to japan, so this is a bit of a non sequitur. the reason that you hadn’t heard me mention it is probably because i only thought of it yesterday morning. one of my favourite people from high school days is living in sendai (northeast of tokyo), and so i was casually looking at flight deals when i saw one for $1130 inclusive. suddenly, i was dreaming and dreaming big:

ten days in japan in the beginning of june!
it will make me feel better about not getting into u of t!
it will re-energize my feelings for life in this city!
it will remind me of how much i love the friend i’d be visiting!
it will be an opportunity to rethink my life plans!

it will be a chance to get even deeper into debt and create a larger barrier to my future plans, especially those that involve buying land or a sailboat!

even after that thought, i was still considering it.

then i called my family in toronto, and had a long talk with my stepdad about travel/delayed gratification/debts and it was exactly what i needed: he didn’t tell me what to do, just talked about the issues to consider and how the world has changed in the past 50 years. in the past, it would have been prohibitively expensive for someone like me to consider a short trip to asia! but also in the past, credit was not so readily available and thus large debts weren’t the norm that they are now. as well, there’s been a change in values about the meaning of getting the things we want: we expect everything faster and with less work than folks did in the past, and it can make it difficult for us to truly appreciate the gift of attaining our object of desire.

sometimes, i realize how lucky i am to have such rad parents in my life.

so, part of me still is considering it. however, a larger part of me is saying that the desire for this trip isn’t about my love of travel, or missing my friend in japan, or a serious desire to explore another country: it’s mostly about momentum. i’m feeling stuck and uncertain and in limbo, waiting to find out if i got accepted into grad school at UBC and will therefore be moving to vancouver, or if i’ve been rejected so will be needing to figure out a plan for continuing life in this city without going insane. i want momentum: i want plans that are going places, that are big enough to carry me with them and buoy me up and make me feel excited. my feet are itching to move through unfamiliar landscapes, and they are not contented with practical thoughts of finances and promises of future rewards. a spontaneous jaunt to japan is a good solution, but it’s also reflexive response to a craving. it doesn’t address my underlying need for knowing what the future holds, or guarantee that i won’t feel just as restless a month or two later.

funny, how i wasn’t dealing with any of these thoughts or emotions until i went through this 24 hour rollercoaster of plans and decisions. now i’m back to where i was two days ago, with no trip to japan on the horizon, but feeling very different about myself.

maybe that’s the secret: maybe everyday i should wake up and say, “today, i am choosing not to travel to [insert place here] because i currently have other priorities”. it’s a nice idea, if only cuz it makes it just that much more possible that one morning i’ll say “wait a second! i’m outta here!”

[photo: atrium in takashimaya japanese department store, 5th avenue, new york city… march 2008]


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