There have been two earth tremors since I arrived in Japan on November 6th.
One last night in bed, one this morning in the coffee shop. This morning I witnessed a fellow coffee drinker look up from her phone and out of the window for a brief moment, before turning her head back down to focus on the glass screen of her device. It’s accepted as a part of life here and I’ll suggest that walking on unsteady ground leads to a general fear and thin layer of anxiety that ripples through most situations. I think I already mentioned earlier in the week that “disaster awareness day” was held on November 5th. A national day for earthquake and tsunami drills, checking emergency exits and stock of food/water supplies for such disasters. Such shared fragility might account for some of their honourable and polite behaviour but also a cautious tone that can cloud decision making and self efficacy.
It’s 4am, I can’t sleep tonight and only have myself to blame. I met a friend this morning in a Starbucks “roastery” and had two cups of the different (super strength) coffee they serve. I must be sensitive to something in that because tonight I’m ready to go. After laying in bed for two restless hours I did ‘bedtime yoga’ but still can’t let go of the day. I trace a finger back over my activities in the past 6/7 hours and try to pinpoint what went wrong. I lambast myself for engaging with that email, a delicate issue that’s been lingering and seemingly won’t resolve willingly. Responded too quickly to that other gig – even got my guitar out and started recording a demo in direct response to a comment, but I wasn’t set up right and looped the piece a few times before effectively performing the guitar equivalent of a handbrake turn in a carpark, kicking up turf and turning heads for all the wrong reasons.
For all my good intentions, daily routines creative practices and mantras, I mess things up from time to time. “Respect the night – do your evening routine – No glass screen time before bed”. Now all these words resound in my skull like warnings rather than words of encouragement and all I can hear are the two notes of the public service bell of the underground station 20 metres outside my bedroom window. The notes taunt me as I sweat alone in the night and do not sleep.
What’s really bugging me? Might as well tell you the whole thing since we’ve made it this far.
Earlier tonight we were talking about how long i’ll be here in Japan. He asked:
“Will it always be April?”, and a part of me falls away inside. I’m reminded of the time a slab of decaying concrete fell from the rehearsal building we were playing in, mere centimetres from my band mate Greg’s brand new Corsa. I’m lost for words. What do I say exactly? Whatever I say, am I etching these words on his soul? Tread carefully Dan. “Yes it will be April son, and Daddy will always stay as long as he can” it has been April these past few years.
A shiver down my spine and pins and needles in my right hand from typing this into my phone. I’m gonna try that bed time Yoga routine one more time…
A perfect shaft of light signals morning, drawing the shape of a window on my bedroom wall. I decide to give into insomnia, wake up and walk by the bay.
Later we’re at the park, and he introduces me to his new friend H from Malaysia, a young boy who speaks English but not Japanese (yet) and Taiga has been assigned as a fellow foreigner to help with his cultural assimilation.
“This is my dad” he said proudly, H turns his head but doesn’t really acknowledge me.
And then Taiga tries again, moments later
To which his friend defensively replied “ok!”
They continue playing dodgeball. Hurtling the ball at one another with gusto, a game deemed safe enough to play at their school where football is banned. I take a lap of the park, orbiting them as I like to do. Taiga approaches me and says “H wants you to sing a song”
“A quiet song or a loud song I say?”
“Quiet” says H
And I obliged, with a soft rendition of the opening lines of ‘Can’t Help Falling In Love’.
H smiled nervously and seemed happy when I finished. It was a kind of nothing moment, but I was so proud he’d told his friend I was a musician/singer. I was proud he was proud of me, and bathed in this glow for the rest of the day.
PS. Today’s head turning body stretcher was a taxi driver, spotted crouching around the rear of his vehicle, then standing reaching arms to the sky, then bend double at the waist – all in the middle of the road. But he was simply giving the body the minimum requirement. Of course he needs that stretch, he’s a professional driver and nobody is designed to be curled up in a car seat like that all day.