Sunday, April 1, 2007

Japan again

While I was still in Kathmandu both sets of parents were urging me to see the doctor just as soon as I got home to check for unwanted visitors from Nepal, parasitic stowaways hitching a ride to Japan. I’m happy to report that after leaving stool and blood samples with my doctor that I have been certified parasite free.

But I’m not, unfortunately, entirely well. The day before I left Nepal I picked up a small head cold, the last bit of which I’ve been honking into a box of tissues. What’s worse, though, is that my stomach seems to have become accustomed to Nepali food. I’ve not been able to properly digest much of what I’ve eaten since I returned.

Not all the news has been bad. Instead of losing 3 kilos, as I reported previously, the doctor reported that I have in fact lost 5 kilos. I seem to have lost something else, as well, something that seems a bit more difficult to define or to replace.

Being back with Mutsumi is wonderful. And living in a place where I don’t always have to worry about the water and the food, where power is always is available, where the streets are properly paved and where the drivers stay in designated lanes and use their horns only in emergencies is of course something a relief. But Japan lacks the vibrancy of Boudha, the monks in red robes, the sound of chanting, the blowing of horns and ringing of gongs, the Buddhist paintings and imagery, the vibrant temples on every corner, the people carrying prayer beads and prayer wheels, the prayer flags fluttering overhead.

I miss these things. I also miss the sense of – for lack of a better word – the spiritual. Buddhists don’t subscribe to the concept of a spirit, and properly speaking Buddhism is not a religion. But I don’t know what else to call this inquiry into mind, this search for meaning beyond the five senses, this respect for the potential that a different reality is within ourselves - if only we look for it, and the reverence for those who have and stand by to point the way.

Here it just seems to be business as usual, nine-to-five, thanks for the paycheck, let’s go shopping and spend our time in pleasant diversion.

Something is missing. And it’s not my 5 kilos of body fat.



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