It’s been a while since I posted any non-travel news so I thought it was about time to jot down a few thoughts separate from the usual adventures while the new year is still fresh.
Note: photos in this post are of Ham House, a beautiful 17th-century house with formal gardens set back 200 metres from the River Thames in London. I visited in both January and September 2018.
Since completing the Shikoku Pilgrimage in 2016, I’ve been lucky enough to work from home which opened up a lot of free time for me to be able to do things like swim and cook most days for which I am very thankful. It’s not until you take away the commute and office distractions that you realise just how time and energy-sapping it all is.
Although working from home can be a little isolating, as part of my job, I visit Hong Kong almost every month which has made it possible for me to reconnect with old friends over there and rekindled my love for the megalopolis which was so formative in my 20’s.
Whilst the most immediate consequence of walking the pilgrimage has been a lot more expeditions into the fabulous Japanese backcountry, the longer term effects have been more subtle and harder to attribute. I would like to say that I am less anxious or prone to worry about things I can’t control, but these are still feelings which come and go. I do however believe that the introspection of a long walk makes you more fully aware of your feelings, and how you react to them,
My aim is to do at least one long-distance trek (~100km) per year which usually equates to about a week of hiking depending on the terrain. I had to cancel a planned walk in 2018 due to illness but it turned out to be fortuitous since Japan experienced terrible flooding in the area the same week.
Work-wise I enjoy what I do, however, I feel like my efforts lack a clear direction towards a strong purpose or mission and this is something I would like to focus on more actively in the next couple of years. I would like to take on a project where I have more direct control over an outcome which is beneficial beyond pure financial incentives.
To achieve this will probably mean departing Japan at some point since I’m not sure I want to spend the rest of my life being an Other in a land where otherness is frowned upon. That’s not to say you can’t make a great life for yourself as an outsider in Japan, it all just depends what compromises you’re willing to make.
In 2019, I am trying to make a concerted effort to eat less meat and to use less plastic. The former seems eminently doable and as a kick starter, I have gone pescatarian for January. The latter is challenging in a country which is addicted to over-packaging everything but I have grown used to brandishing my own bag at store clerks (much to their surprise). The trickier part is how to avoid all the pre-packaged items at the supermarket.
Last but certainly not least, Chen and I got engaged at Christmas and we plan to marry later this year! I’m looking forward to taking on new challenges together and continuing to learn more about this little thing called life 👫.
P.s. we just got back from New Zealand; lots of spectacular mountain scenery coming soon!