HPAC was teeming with introductions; new members have arrived from overseas and were taking advantage of a break in their orientations to get some practice time. New faces, new voices, new ways of moving, and a renewed breath of excitement for the coming year. All were wide-eyed at the wonder of being in Japan, excited to have arrived, anticipating the opportunity to make music together. They expressed concerns and asked questions I remember coming from my own mouth when I first arrived; they mentioned their frustration with the language and the resolution to fix the problem by studying, they asked me if I was going to try to stay in Japan after HPAC. Such enthusiasm and hope for this new home! Such a strange relationship to wish to dive into something so foreign. And yet I remember it so well and can still relate to those feelings. They are still in me. But the time here has changed the perspective a little.
I still study Japanese with the quest for communication and understanding, but I've also come to accept the chimera of understanding's source. The study of Japanese and the quest to connect to the people that speak it have been a gateway to this realization in general and hopefully a liberation from the construals that I often so easily make of the world; there are many ways to connect, but never is one entitled to understanding, never can one assume to have grasped anything and certainly not anyone.
Sometimes I fantasize about continuing life in Japan. There is no end to wanting to master the language, to find the feeling of home and belonging in this new place thousands of miles away from familiarity. To be here is to want to keep trying to find that place, to prolong the search for it. But with one year remaining and thousands of kanji to go, I wonder if one ever finds their place other than within. How does one ever bridge "otherness" with the rest of the world, with the other people in it? I think it may be in the quest to do so that it can happen. Perhaps I have the same enthusiasm as those who have been here for less than a week, but I'm aware that it may have to suspend itself in midair, that sometimes there are no pillars of support or reason. To continue practice for the sake of practice, to live for the sake of living, to feel the breath of others and the possibilities they bring.