I’ve spent a lot of time on planes, trains, and small rickety buses to middle-of-nowhere countryside destinations this past week. Naturally being confined to a small seat on a moving vehicle watching interesting landscapes zoom by - in Japan, this translated to a lot of green, leafy plant life that I tried to take as many pictures (mental and real) of - is also a good setting for doing a lot of deep thinking. Maybe deep is a loaded word here. Just like words like potential and greatness. Reflective I think more precisely describes the kind of thinking I have been spending time thinking about. Does the word think sound weird to you now?
The more I travel (which in the past year has been a pretty happy amount - starting with Johannesburg/Singapore/Shanghai after I graduated, and then NYC/Seattle a bunch of times at Dropbox, then Tokyo/Seoul at this time last year, and then Tokyo/HK/Hangzhou/Rome about two months ago) the more I start to realize the types of places that I feel most comfortable settling down in. Take now, for instance. I just landed in Shanghai after a week of overstimulation in Tokyo and nature-cleanse-balance-Zen-ness in Noberibetsu. Neither one was perfect, but I enjoyed (and appreciated) both experiences. But Shanghai is a whole different energy. I’m staying in an apartment in a great location - it’s a nice two bedroom with a comfy bed and nice big table. Downstairs, if I want, I can hop on over to the river - tomorrow I’m going to try to find a bike rental place - or get fresh fruit. It’s like what I’m looking for is a nice apartment in the middle of a NYC-like city. Anonymous, but nice so that I don’t have to be constrained by my living situation. I like that a lot. I think I thrive the most in that kind of environment.
Thinking this through makes me realize that San Francisco isn’t the most stimulating kind of environment for my taste in this regard. I can certainly get the “nice” and “peace” parts down (SF apartments are generally bigger and neighborhoods more chill than their NYC counterparts, for instance) but not the anonymity. Not sure what this all means. I’ll think about it some more. I mean, reflect.
Another thought I had on the bus this morning! It was raining very softly and the bus chattered along toward the tiny little airport on the island. We always hear the great declarations, “be who you want to be,” “do what you love.” Yet these too are very loaded statements because they imply an activeness and therefore a certain degree of assumed responsibility and therefore expectancy in behavior aka a PLAN on behalf of the individual to aim for who you actively want to be, what you actively (not passively) love. So such statements intended to free imply confinement to what one already knows, which is generally a very small fraction when compared to what one does not yet know. It seems to me a far better, more precise set of statements would be something like, “be what feels right to you,” or “do what feels right to you.” Because here the only sense of activeness, or reaching, lies in trusting your intuition, which you have sharpened over the n years of your existence, and your morals, which you hopefully also continue to explicate to yourself also over time. And I think the people who say this sort of thing (myself included) generally mean that you should indeed trust your intuition/moral (=gut) rather than your currently-formed idea of who or what you strive to be, which at best is a snapshot.
Just a thought. Sleep now.