It’s not the accomplishment, but the incremental progress towards a goal which truly satisfies our soul.

I’M SITTING AT Osaka Chakai, a matcha cafe in Osaka, Japan. This cafe was my buddy Santana’s living room while he lived in this country.

His experience here emanated from his fascination with the foamy green matcha poured behind the counter.

But it was the shop owner, Kauru, who gave him a home and a purpose while in Japan.

My Kitsune pin sits next to me on the large wooden table.

For the past year, this mystical silver fox has guided me on countless adventures throughout Japan from the surface of my shoulder bag.

I’m giving the pin to Kauru to send in a care package to Santana. Mexico has him now. He loved this kitsune.

I came from my favorite soup dumpling spot. It started pouring rain when I walked out the door.

I ducked under an awning and “Clair de Lune” by Claude Debussy started playing on my headphones. The timing couldn’t have been better.

The rain fell harder and bounced off of the ruby red vending machine across the road, quickly inducing the smell of wet pavement, metal and earth, a timeless scent which speaks to my soul.

I felt happy, very happy, under that awning. Happy as I am now writing this, with an amalgamation of notions and actions carrying me into a new chapter.

A page has turned, marked by turning 28 earlier this month, but more so because of the steps I’ve taken, my mindset’s deviation.

I now have a mustache. I like it.

Underneath the surface of my mustache and my skin I’m settling into a flow of doing what I love with less pressure and more gratitude.

The rain fell into repose.

When it did, I walked through the soft haze towards one of my favorite shrines, Osaka Tenmangu, a Shinto shrine founded in Osaka in 949 AD, now a sanctuary of red and emerald green tucked within towers of grey, buildings of steel, alleys and lights and humanity persisting.

The Tenmangu shrines found all over Japan are dedicated to Sugawara no Michizane, the 10th-century scholar and politician revered for his poetry.

His name is deified under the name Tenjin, the god of academics, hence Osaka’s Tenjin Matsuri, one of Japan’s big three summer festivals held at Osaka Tenmangu every July.

What was Michizane truly like… What was the earth over a thousand years ago? Did it smell the same when alive with rain? Did the fragrance bring Michizane a deep sense of joy as it does me?

Ukiyo-e by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi depicting Sugawara no Michizane as the Tenjin (kami of thunder).
Ukiyo-e by Tsukioka Yoshitoshi depicting Sugawara no Michizane as the Tenjin (kami of thunder).

A drum began to slowly beat, providing the base to the melody of falling rain upon dirt, wood and stone.

I moved around the shrine, watching the rain drip from pointed roofs and torii gates while others began gathering and the rain lightened and the pale sun peaked momentarily through the clouds.

This is what I love, for there’s a profound drive in me to experience life and tell this never-ending story.

That pull tugs against the need to slow down and just be, the yin and yang which compose the order of my steps and the prospect of my days.

I’m quite happy in my day-to-day life right now, not necessarily because I’ve accomplished something, at least not on the surface.

Yet, as I’ve learned over the years, most recently from psychologist Jordan Peterson, it’s not the achievement of a goal which brings satisfaction, or even happiness. That feeling is fleeting, as we’re off looking for the next thing to do.

It’s the incremental movement towards a goal which brings us true fulfillment.

I feel momentum to move, to create, to heal.

For the first time in the past seven years that I’ve dealt with chronic lower back pain, I have a route out, thanks to Brendan Backstrom a.k.a Low Back Ability.

I’ve been a member of his Back Ability Blueprint for the past three months, and while there are still highs and lows, words can’t express how grateful I am to not wake up every day in a funk of mystery and pain.

I know what I have to do with this program. It may take a year to heal, maybe more, maybe less. But I have a direction to solve a worthy problem.

I’m still working on my book about my 2022 European adventure. It’s taking serious time and effort, but I’m in no rush. There are stretches when it consumes my thoughts, and others when I put it aside for a while.

But I won’t accept not finishing it, and that drive steers my life.

We need an aim, a vision, a problem to solve, an idea to stumble towards. We may choose it or it may be chosen for us, but either way, dream big.

I imagine I’m going to be writing books for the rest of my life on my adventures around the world.

I imagine I’m going to be healed in my body and soul, better than I’ve ever been, playing basketball again, surfing, all of it. What if things don’t work out in the end?

At least I’ll have dedicated my life to finding out.

It does nothing but hold us back to base our actions on the need to know if things will work out in the end. I believe that’s just not the point.

What if instead we could imagine this… this could actually happen one day.

Go find out.

The things in this matcha shop are so lovely. The music, the geometric light fixtures, the bowl which holds my matcha smoothie.

The feel of it is thick and earthen; its glazed, oatmeal colored surface splashed with minty green is damp from the cold drink, cold in my hands. It feels good in the heat.

The bowl thunks sturdily when I tap it with my pen. I hear the rush of pouring rain outside. I went to check; it is pouring; I stood in the arcade watching the summer storm interplay with the iron sky.

Maybe we don’t have to understand it all — where we’re heading, for one. We can’t.

That’s fucking crazy, isn’t it? The need for faith. So smile. Laugh into existence, even when this shit hurts like mad.

“Zen is to realize that life is simply nonsense without meaning other than itself or future purpose beyond itself,” writes 20th-century philosophy Alan Watts in his autobiography, In My Own Way.

“The trick was to dig the nonsense, for — as Tibetans say — you can tell the true yogi by his laugh.”

This could be incredibly fun, trying to figure out just what the hell this is all about.

You walk towards what you think you desire, and on that path, you begin to understand yourself. You redefine and clarify. And I know it can feel as if that perfect thing, whether it’s a relationship or job or lifestyle doesn’t actually exist.

That we must settle into societal norms instead of crafting, unlocking, unearthing the magic that is out there, waiting.

Finding that thing takes work. I get it, it can be incredibly challenging to know where to even begin.

But if we’re brave and never stop seeking, we’ll become more attuned to who we’re meant to be; the key will find the lock; and dare I say we’ll have a fucking grand ol’ time seeking god (whatever that means to you), or our destiny, or love.

Don’t lose faith. What we imagine does exist, even though we haven’t seen it fully; but we’ve caught glimpses, haven’t we? That tells me we just need to continue.

The evening comes.

Great flashes of lightning illuminate my cozy, dimly lit room. I open the window and listen to the torrential rain.

It’s the heaviest storm I’ve experienced here, and there’s nothing but the sound, nothing beyond it; the booming thunder shakes me and I smile as I watch the inky sky.

Time passes in lights and shadows and music as my energy’s cleansed, for I’m feeling nothing but love for life itself.

I’m stumbling towards my dreams, and it’s these kinds of days along the way which make the finish line irrelevant.

No Comments

I'd love to hear your thoughts!