Wednesday, May 09, 2007

Don't forget to write

I wrote this a few months ago and feel that I need to remind myself of my resolve....

Out the window, the landscape rolls past. Ugly concrete buildings of grey, brown or off-white; a small green patch of leeks rising proudly from the earth; the bright red of a Shinto shrine gate promising purification; a bare school baseball field that looks more like a prison exercise yard with its high wire fences; large blocks of apartments made colourful with futons hung over balconies, drying in the sun; a bright pink castle-like love hotel; the Vegas-style neon lights of a pachinko parlor luminous even in the daylight; in the distance, peeking out from the smog, untouched mountains looking like a backdrop painted in blue greens; a stream lined in cherry blossom trees still in their naked winter form, waiting for the new season to bring them back to life; a river filled with water, ice cold, carrying melted snow out to sea; the criss-crosses of a rusty red iron bridge reflected in the still liquid, a single weathered wooden boat by its edge; carved headstones in memory of ancestors passed; squat neat rows of tea bushes; a flash of white plum blossoms, promises of the spring to soon come; a tiny shrine by the side of the road, sheltering a stone deity dressed in brightly coloured child’s bib and hat; a billboard painted with a depiction of a battle long ago fought; parched rice fields decorated with tufts of rice straw in orderly lines, memories of last years harvest; all the while, the grey sky with patches of blue peeking through remaining constant.

A white gloved, uniformed man makes an announcement through the train in Japanese. My mind snatches at words it can understand; a broadcast of a station to come and a reminder not to leave anything on the train.

All the while, with each rhythmic click, each repetitive clack of wheels on rails, words are echoing through my head, advice given to me by a writing teacher over a year ago. “Show, don’t tell.” Her words come rushing back to me. “Show, don’t tell.” While this foreign landscape is rushing towards me, I realize that it is retreating just as quickly. I think about the year that has just passed.

I’ve been in Japan almost exactly a year this time around, as mundane things such as visa renewals and an expiring international drivers license remind me. A year and what? What have I done in that year? Plenty, but very little of what I came here to do. I came here to write, to design, to create, to photograph, to be inspired, to experience and to travel. Yet I haven’t. I haven’t written, I’ve blogged. I haven’t written, I’ve waffled. I haven’t written, I’ve regurgitated.

Now as the plum blossom signal a new season, they also signal a new resolve; a resolve to “show, not tell”.

The landscape continues to roll by unaware. A patchwork of greens, greys and browns.

3 comments:

blender said...

I know what you mean. Came here with so many plans, but it's hard to stay on track!

Keep writing!

melanie said...

Thanks Mike!

southofreality said...

It's funny, but most of my foreign friends here in Japan feel like they haven't gotten around to doing the things they had planned on doing before coming. The ones who have gotten around to carrying out some of their plans (myself included)have been here a few years or more and plan on being here awhile. I think it has to do with just letting that feeling of 'there's so much to do and time is limited' just fall away. If the pressure to get busy with your plans is always with you, you tend to overthink everything: 'where should I go, what should I do?' 'Well, I could do this, but wouldn't this be better?'This sort of thing just causes carrying out your plans to become a stressful experience, which often leads to feeling like those plans ought to be placed on the back burner. It's often done subconsciously, I think.

Anyway, that's my take.