Tuesday, August 04, 2009

Alone on a big comfy sofa

I have to wake up in three hours so I can catch a flight back to Japan in nine. It is dark and quiet, and all I can think about is what happens next.

I'm not a rich man; choosing teaching as a profession and research interest makes the odds on those prospects seem daunting. And the rumor is that teaching in Japan will become a bit more expensive for me if I want to renew my visa. As I've said before, I don't have the sort of checking account I can show to a daughter's father. So we're long shots on those opportunities as well.

It's not just about money either. All good teachers (or at least well-intentioned ones) should never be satisfied with their teaching (those who are, sadly, have been quite common in every stint in my career). I'm certainly not with mine. Often, it's good, because one should always want to improve. However, every now and then, like moments such as this one, it can really get you down.

And let me tell you how my vacation went: I went to Cheesecake Factory, I went to Applebee's, I saw most of my old friends, I watched soccer in a bar with fellow fans, I watched a television that had four hundred channels, I drove around for miles. None of those things I ever did in Japan, despite how much I love the place. And I go back tomorrow.

The takeaway from Joyce's Portrait... is the leap of faith one takes not on religion, not on society, not on politics, but a leap of faith on one's own intuitions, when no one else tells you what you should or it is until it's too late. So soldiering on and pressing forward can yield great rewards, but they can also produce devastating hardships.

Ditka says something along the lines of one can never be a loser unless he quits trying. Simply put: no guts, no glory. I've been reminded of this twice in the last two weeks: one, when a woman in a bar all alone falls victim to one of the worst pickup routines I have ever executed, and another in an email from an old friend.

With the former, at least I tried. The latter, I'll regret until I die the things I never did.

The choice is clear: giving up, packing it in and going home is just about the dumbest thing one can do at this point in time. This too shall pass. The funk will go away and I'll be back in the swing of things, like this night never happened.

Until then, I say this about the life I chose: "This better f***ing work."

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