Your Local Writers: Providing an Alternate Lifestyle
First of all, thank you to everyone who made it a fantastic weekend, providing their stories and art, and their opinions and views. Good evening everybody, happy Tuesday. Isn’t it great how the months and the years cycle unevenly, but this, this has been Tyr’s day every seven days since somebody first thought it would be a good idea.
It means nothing, of course, because the days aren’t aware they have names and a day is all in the eye of the beholder. But it’s interesting to think that this is the definition of our existence; our lives are in the eyes of their beholders. Namely, us. No matter how hard we try, we can never see the same way someone else does. Not even another human being. No matter what we do, how close we become, another person is, even just by being another person, foreign. Our lives are eternally witnesses from behind a screen, even if it is the screen of a mortal body.
The point I was going to make was exactly the opposite. Good when that happens.
Three years ago I spent three months hiking around Japan. I started in Okinawa in the south, and worked my way up through Kyushu, Shikoku, then onto the mainland through Hiroshima, Kyoto, Osaka, Nagoya, Nara, Hide Takayama and Tokyo. I stared in Okinawa because I was sure Tokyo would be the most expensive, so I wanted to make sure I conserved my funds for the entire three months. It took three months of living mainly off cup noodles and delicious onigiri, but the plan worked.
I arrived in Okinawa at the end of September. Flying onto the island from Shanghai, it didn’t seem there was even enough room for the plane to land! But the pilot navigated his way onto the air strip, and we all bundled out onto the runway, where we were guided past one Pikachu aeroplane and a roar of fighter jets passing overhead, to the terminal.
I hit the island at the end of tourist season, and so maybe the reduced number of people in the cities and town contributed to the relaxed atmosphere of the island. But, maybe, the Okinawans are just a friendly and relaxed people. The island is hot, tropical, the beaches are beautiful. Kitanashiro Beach, with its background of dense sugarcane plantations and jungle, its rocky bays and verdant islands… incredible. I can still hear the sound of a million hermit crabs migrating across a rocky beach. And feel the warm dampness of a sudden tropical storm. I was caught in one on my second day on the island. It hit without warning and soaked me and everything in my bag to the very core. I took shelter in a phone booth, but even thirty seconds’ exposure to the rain was too much – my guide books were twice the size and my money and passport were floating in their plastic pockets. And looking at the colourful shisa statues outside houses. Everyone in the bank waving and calling goodbye and thank you in their bright Hawaiian shirts. I don’t know why the banks in Japan do that, it’s probably a form of respect, but never do you feel so important as when bank managers all wave and cheer you out. Even the ones on the mainland in their suits and their cutting-edge technology do it. It’s certainly a different world.
These days I look back on my time in Japan and wonder why I remember it so vividly. Maybe it’s not the case, but I feel like were I to try, I could recall the most minute details, the colour and the perfume of every second. I know for sure it wasn’t all good, although there was very little bad, but it feels so much closer than, say, last week. I’ve never been one to dwell in the past, but on this, the memories are too vivid not to revisit.
And I think, deep down, that it was a more pleasant and simpler time. I travelled alone, I had no one’s expectations but my own to fulfil. I found my purpose as a traveller and I was happy with it. Go, experience, return, share. That was enough.
It was like seeing from someone else’s eyes. Except they were my own.
And isn’t that why we write? Why we create these stories? More than entertainment, more than education, aren’t we giving people the chance, the brief, flitting chance, to live another life? The writer’s life is often a lonely one, but that’s when he writes best. The traveller experiences more of the culture when travelling alone. And the reader cannot really read unless reading alone. It’s lonely, and joyous, and it’s the commonality of our experiences rather than the impossibility of cloning them, which make them something to be cherished.
What do you think?
Posted on October 15, 2013, in Uncategorized and tagged alone, alternative lifestyle, beach, being alone, books, hermit crab, japan, kitanashiro, loneliness, naha, okinawa, reader, reading, tokyo, travel, travelling alone, writer, writing. Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.