Sunday, October 27, 2012: Taking a Flier

I’m trying out my “tech for trip” for China in this journal entry. I’ve hooked my BlackBerry up to my PlayBook via remote to try out using the BlackBerry keyboard to compose Journal entries on Docs to Go. So far, so good.

So, why am I here at home in my PJs with my feet up on the ottoman in the kitchen – sharing said ottoman with Tulisan (currently washing his paws with single-minded attention prior to settling in for a nap)?

It’s a good question.

I’m trying to get ready for China – acquiring stuff, getting packed, taking care of logistics. I have an odd ambivalence. It doesn’t seem like “vacation.” When I talk with some of the other Aikidoka going, they are focused on “yippee, what an adventure,” but – typically – I’m thinking worst case, preparing for what could go wrong. Sigh. Rev Cathy re-framed it nicely at church – “That’s great, what fun!”  And I realized what a precious thing it is, to go visit this place that I still think of as a “root place.”  I worry, though about how I’ll be accepted there – Chinese last name, but speaking only a tiny bit of the language, red hair, green eyes, tallish. One time my dad was doing business with a Chinese man in the US, who, on meeting me, commented casually to my dad (in Chinese) that he “must have married a barbarian.” My dad, who was rarely overtly angry, was furious, and we never visited that shop again.

For the past couple of decades, it’s been seductive to lose myself in work for other people. I’m good at what I do, and I’m allowed to create and design, and lead, at least within limits. But it can come to feel like a kind of dream, a place you go to earn money and forget the stress of what you’re actually put on earth to do.  I could make an argument for “right livelihood,” and bring up the example of Saito Sensei, who was a train conductor for years while running Iwama Dojo.

But then this adventure beckons. When Shihan Sonny told us about a trip to China with Sensei back during Summer Camp 2012, I didn’t have a question in my mind that I was going to go. Wasn’t sure how I was going to manage it, but figured that one way or the other I would. It’s been well over a decade since I’ve taken more than a couple weeks of vacation, and when I have, it’s always been around Christmas, and I mostly stayed around the house. When you travel 50-75% for business, travel is not necessarily associated with adventure. Adventure-free travel is generally deemed desirable. Just get there, see the airport, the hotel, the conference room or trade show, the occasional restaurant, get home safe, try to catch up once you get back to work. There was also a bad memory of being laid off (along with  my entire team) during a vacation. But the prep for this trip feels like running towards the edge of a cliff, with a winged gizmo of dubious reliability strapped to one’s shoulders.

Much different.