One of the things that I really like about America is church signs. It's been an interest since high school. Sometimes profound, sometimes ignorant or offensive, sometimes thought-provoking, sometimes curious. There is one on the way to my grandmother's house in eastern Ohio that says, "Here we are God." I've spent a lot of time wondering if it means, "Here we are, God," or "Here, we are God." Are they getting God's attention or stating that they are more than human? I'm not sure which is a more likely or preferable reading, but I haven't had the benefit of seminary.
A sign that I recall from high school that for whatever reason has stuck with me was, "Character is who you are when no one else is looking." I've spent a lot of time wondering if that is true, wondering what character is, and who would count as to be one who looks. Sometimes in solitude we look at ourselves from the eyes of another. Is some one else looking?
And what is character? Is it the set of things that we do, the things we think, the feelings that we have?
In Japan, increasingly so, I feel as though I lead a life where no one is looking. It may be the nature of Japan, or the nature of HPAC, or of being so removed from the larger phrase of life. It's hard to tell, but it is not an infrequent feeling and I think it gives a unique and rare opportunity to think about this sort of solitude and what emerges. What is there when no one is looking? Who am I when I'm alone? What is the voice that is listening to me in silence?