One year ago today I was in Japan, traveling to Yamanashi Prefecture to make one last visit to a precocious young woman. I remember, with a vibrant significance, that as I rode the train during those hours I listened to the soft and gentle crooning of Simon and Garfunkel as they sang their ballad to The Boxer, and El Condor Pasa. Their words touched me deeply, and though I cannot possibly hope to impart their significance, I can tell you that when I hear their songs I am gripped by an intense passion to truly live. I was overcome with sadness and grief that my journey was at an end, but as I was spending time with my host family later that week and preparing to leave, it occurred to me that I was profoundly tired. After nearly a year of travel, experiences, and new friendships, I was ready to return home to my quaint little town nestled in heartland America.
In the year since that journey I have had a great deal of time to truly internalize and think on the events which occurred during my time abroad to help further shape my persona. I often think of friends from Singapore, Nicaragua, Japan, and Malaysia, and wonder how their self-confidence worked to mold me. Many nights I walk outside of my apartment and I sit under the stars, gazing upward and pondering the different philosophies that John Hanagan, a professor at Kansai Gaidai, taught me to appreciate. And so many times, as I’ve walked down the street and seen the homeless, or read a newspaper article about the hardships of individuals in the world I have found myself filled with the same compassion for others that encouraged my host family to take care of me for a year.
Self-introductions are typically selfish and egotistical. They virtually have to be so, for if not then few would have the courage to put an image of themselves out to the public. Who am I? I don’t believe in cellphone ringtones, driving slowly on highway entry ramps, or watching commercials. I laugh often, drink hard, and talk to a large number of objects which will never, ever reply to me. I find beauty and enjoyment in every aspect of the world, regardless of how small, painful, or hate filled it is. And I am a complete and total idiot at almost all times.
My name is Jon-Michael, and I’m going to Henan University in China to teach English in a little over two months. When I started my journey to Japan, I did so with the express intention of keeping a public journal of my time and experiences. The journal, despite my sincerest efforts, turned out to be but another project left in the dusty cupboards of my mind. I have since come to regret this failure and I seek to rectify it this time around. I will not promise that I will have good follow-through this time around– my promises mean more to me than anything, and to break them would be utterly disheartening– but I will try my hardest and do my best to share my experiences with you. Follow this blog if you’re interested in hearing about a fun-filled year of adventure, seeing beautiful pictures of far-away lands, or enhancing your knowledge of the world.
The universe is vast and complicated, and sometimes impossible things just happen and we call them miracles. Where do you wanna start?