This afternoon at church, I spent some time chatting with a young family over lunch, and as they got up to leave, the mother invited me to join them in walking over to the small festival that was happening in town. Suddenly, I had a choice to make, and if you know me at all, then you know that I am absolutely the most indecisive person on the planet- no joke. The young woman laughed, and said that I sounded just like her small boy (he’s a very genki three year old with enough energy to power a small country). She then held up up two fingers, and quoted her son, “I want to do two things,” and I laughed, but totally agreed. I could completely relate because, yes, I really did want to do two things! And that’s always been the issue for me, especially since coming to Japan. Pretty much from the moment I stepped off the plane on day one, I have found myself caught between two deep and conflicting realities. Part of me was (is) so ecstatic to be in Japan and eager to soak in the experience, but the other part was (definitely still is) terribly homesick and uneasy. I thought the uneasiness would wear off as time went on, but it’s never really faded away, and that’s been really troubling. I’ll still find myself questioning my decisions to come out here and then to stay and continue teaching for another year because I want to do two things.
I want to go back to the States and live (relatively) close to my family. I want to watch my nephew grow up. I want to spend time with aging grandparents. I want to be able to visit my friends. But, I also want to stay in Japan. I want to learn the language and experience the culture. I want to build relationships with the people I’ve met at the church that I attend. I want to travel around the country more. I’ll find myself going back and forth pretty often, and even though I’ve made the decision to stick it out another year, the truth is that I’m really struggling.
I’m struggling to make sense of how I could want two very different things so very much. Maybe this post is me asking for advice, or trying to poll for unbiased opinions? Or maybe I just want to know if anyone out there can relate? Does anybody else ever feel like they are completely stuck between two great desires? Trapped between familiarity and freedom? Caught between chaos and comfort? So often, I think, when we find ourselves in those kinds of situations, we rush to ease the tension and make a decision; we want there to be a clear right choice and wrong choice, but sometimes there really isn’t. Maybe, sometimes, we’re just supposed to live in the tension even though that, in and of itself, is uncomfortable.I don’t know, these are just my “late-night-I-really-should-be-sleeping-but-instead-I’m-having-an-existential-crisis” thoughts, and I really would love to hear you opinions, so feel free to share your experiences in the comments. Thanks for reading!