On The Road – Japan, Kyushu

Being here in Japan is like coming home again. I’ve been told during my previous travels by new-agest and psychics alike that in my past life I was a samurai. I can see to that possibility, of being a warrior in Japan, and perhaps this is where my fascination and appeal towards Japanese culture comes from. It’s up for speculation, but something feels familiar about this country, which brings me here to further explore.

Dedicated to my family – with a continually higher appreciation for the people that you are.

We’ve arrived, as a family there to travel for two weeks in the Kyushu prefecture, and it’s 24 hour experience of a bittersweet symphony. A vacation sometimes requires a vacation within my vacation when traveling as a family. We eat, play and love each other of course, but the alternate reality is we’re a living sitcom that I’d like to watch and laugh at my absurdity. The melodramatic replay is a condition of every family vacation, no?
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I shouldn’t be complaining, (but I shamefully do). After the initial familial pubescent breakouts comes the mature moments of toilet talk and facts of flatulence. Eating, and talking about eating is a main staple of our travels, and I’ve certainly been eating well. No doubt have I’ve broken every restriction in my dietary rulebook of being gluten free, diary reduced, sugarless, organic when available and coffee cutoffs. If the price my belly pays for sharing one-in-a-lifetime meals with my beloved family, then I will gladly eat from every food stand that fills the streets and its the sacrifice I’m willing to make.

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We’ve decided to rent a car and drive around the country side from town to town and if you’ve ever driven in Japan, it’s kind of like teaching in a new yoga studio for the first time. New rules and new streets, but what’s even more confusing is having to drive on the other side of the road. If you know about yoga teachers and having to teach as a mirror, then you can maybe relate to this, as your right hand is my left hand and your left turn is now my right turn. I get the hang of it eventually, but it doesn’t serve my self-esteem to have a teenage police officer on his bicycle blow a whistle at me for illegally turning right just five minutes from pulling out of the rental station. I’m a good driver, I swear, I make sure to drive slow and cautious when cutting people off.

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Now having returned, home becomes a feeling of being lost in a foreign city. Its like my compass speaks another language. Driving in a car with a family being my backseat drivers was like a cocoon at times and now I am confused as to what I am to do with our new found transformation. Each and every time I go away, whether its to the Gulf Islands or a flight overseas, I come back with a shift in perspective that leaves me in a dazed coma of awe and delight, kind of like being born again and gazing at life with baby eyes. I leave with a smidgen of guilt for abandoning you folks, but I return with a greater sense of gratitude for the rare opportunity to travel with my family and experience life outside of my bubble wrapped world. Its those moments that “pop” that makes the uncomfortable changes in life worth bursting open for.

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You’ve must have heard that if you really want to know someone, all you need to do is travel with them. It’s safe to say that I’ve gotten to know, and understand my family a lot better, inside (literally) and out. I’ve come to acknowledge that families cannot be void of its conflict or discomforting moments, nor does life, but that also brings to light the moments of growth and laughter. Family need not be something to be sacrificed or compromised for, it is a willingness to let go of myself in service and contribution to a greater group. Its not a blood bond that creates a default connection, but a conscious choice to bite my trivial tongue and speak that which only matters. The yoga of family is paradoxically chosen to challenge, and also free me from myself. The mastery of yoga is not just at a studio or on my mat, its in the comforts/discomforts of my very own home. 

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