How Our Environment Influences Us | Self Reflection Journal Entry

“Your task is not to seek for love, but merely to seek and find all the barriers within yourself that you have built against it.”

No, I have not become one of those hipsters that quote Rumi. But this is fitting to describe this passage of time I’m currently in. The ethos between self-reflection and meditation and the death of ego.

I’ve been in my head a lot lately.

There have been two reasons for this: a new diet, and an old home influencing me. I’ll explain – last summer I had access to farmers markets the entire season. Fresh, vibrant fruits and veggies I’d never seen before. I delighted in looking at the assorted goods each time the dully colored tents that attracted eclectic crowds of individuals came to the area. It lit up the grey and drab surroundings that sometimes the city can convey. I went vegan that summer. It was a struggle, then it was effortless. Now I know what you’re probably thinking – please stop rolling your eyes and don’t click that red x in the upper right corner. This is not a commercial supporting an eating ideology, I’m simply trying to make a point. This year without the privileges of the last, I’ve settled on a vegetarian diet that consists of intermittent fasting. It’s particularly difficult some days, but others I’ve never had so much energy. So much so that I actually stopped sleeping for a while. Like I’d literally be up all morning just reading and lost in my unconscious thoughts. Thinking and reflecting on things I hadn’t in years. It didn’t help that I started working out more and dabbling into meditative practices.  Which brings us to ye olde home.

I live in a very old home that thankfully has a beautiful yard that used to be all forest before I was born. Sometimes strange flowers pop up from time to time, sometimes wild roses and these past two years it’s been honeysuckles. Beautiful white flowers adorning yellow blossoms and great green vines. Each morning opening my window the scent mingles with pine trees and it’s been an absolutely stunning end of spring. The electrical wiring in my particular room is faulty – I live in the upstairs portion of the house.

Years ago one of the outlets in my room randomly stopped working and I thought nothing of it since I hardly used it. For weeks I’d heard sizzling and gingerly re-adjusted the power strip cord in the socket. Brought a new surge protector, a new adaptor, but alas it was finished. Then my antiquated console went as well. My modes of enjoying Netflix and YouTube were gone. Sure, I could come downstairs and hook my laptop up to an HDMI cord to the back of the TV but…it just seemed like a lot of effort for no reason.

So when it was time for Netflix to expire, I canceled the renewal for the next month.

I decided maybe the universe was telling me to take a step back, and I willingly unplugged and delve into this self-imposed isolation. So I thought, and I slept, and I wrote, and I started sleeping in silence.

Silence has always bothered me. I usually needed something, anything in the background. I’ve even awoken in the middle of the night once my TV turned itself off on a timer just to turn it back on to listen to anything. I started listening to music, lots of music. Dream Koala had always been one of my favorite artists, Biosphere, Nujabes…and lo-fi and jazzhop had captured my imagination. Then that became too much and I just slept in silence. Since then I’ve had this strange sense of clarity between the diet and hearing the birds outside my window each morning. Smelling the earth’s gifts beyond my doorstep. It did something to me and I finally made a lot of progress on other projects I work on that require mental juggling and the correct mood.  Graphic novels, short stories I’d like to compile into a book, the Solarpunk Afrofuturistic book series I’ve written mentally in my head but for some reason when I open up Word nothing comes out.

I’ve also been thinking a lot about older anime series I watched. Series I absolutely loved that are a bit taboo or far too…Blasé to speak on now that so much time has passed. But do you know what? I don’t give a damn and I’m going to re-watch them and talk about some of the ideas that have been setting up unauthorized office spaces in my head. I’m going way back, such as Yakitate!! Japan, Ghost Hunt, Samurai Champloo, Michiko e Hatchin

There are a few cultural topics relating to Japanese society that I’d like to cover as well, especially since summer is upon us. I’d also like to release some of the series that I’d worked on before I decided to mentally check out a few weeks ago. I seem to be coming back down to earth, and my collective consciousness is returning. A consciousness that allows me to actually focus on things I’ve written, proofread effectively and not absolutely hate every single thing I’ve written for no reason at all. Like writer’s block had a more aggressive, angry cousin coming in and telling you to just delete pages of content you’d prepared if you did decide to take a bit of a mental break. Anywho, it’s time for me to get back to work and get back to In Asian Spaces. Because it seems passions don’t go away, but rather enjoy to haunt you once you decide to turn your back on them.

Why would you turn your back on something you love? I don’t know. Fear and uncharted territory seem to make one do strange things. But we shouldn’t fear what we can accomplish in this lifetime, especially when we only have such a short window here in this moment. The seasons are changing and I will change right along with them. Until then…Check out our Instagram! I plan on posting more frequently, but don’t feel strange to drop by and share the love. I check out everyone who comes by, regardless of follower count or content.

Have you had any recent moments of clarity? What are your plans this summer? What do you long for? Leave your thoughts in the comment section below, I’d love to hear from you! Also be sure to follow us for more juicy content this upcoming season!

(Also a Tokyo Ghoul:re review is coming soon…since the show should be ending this Tuesday and it’s been nothing short of a disjointed disappointment story wise for non-manga readers.)

Goodbye, Mr. Anthony Bourdain

I think it’s really something when one of your idols falls…How a complete stranger, can have such a curious impact on your actual being.

When I was younger, my dad used to drive trucks. My parents divorced early in my life and I ended up staying with him for about two or three years. He didn’t know how to take care of me well, and he was gone a lot on the road. Instead of staying in unwelcome places…I frequently went along with him. The end of third grade, fourth grade and fifth grade I traveled around the country in a tractor trailer – missing a ton of school. I met so many kind people and immersed myself in so many different cultures. It was a very unhappy period in my life, but that is the one experience I treasure out of that time in my life.

I watched the Travel Channel a lot growing up. I felt nostalgic about my experiences and in 2005 I stumbled upon a TV show called Anthony Bourdain: No Reservations. And I think the sun came out for the first time. Here on TV was this brash, funny, absolutely authentic man talking about food, its relation to culture and traveling. I started thinking…maybe, just maybe I could actually achieve my goals. Maybe I would someday travel the world.

I had an old world map that I stuck thumbtacks in. I used to just sit and stare at it for hours, imagining what my life could be like once I was able to explore.

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After High School I didn’t magically have the opportunities to just take off, but in college I started small. I started roaming the streets of New York City – every back alley, little coffee spot, off the cuff specialty store – and started seeing the city for the first time.

Graduating College, at the ceremony in our gowns, I joked with a friend about wanting to travel and maybe create a show later in life. She remarked that I could be like the next Anthony Bourdain.  I laughed and shrugged it off, but how do you tell someone that you had a picture of a middle-aged chef on your wall for inspiration?

You don’t. With these things, I think it’s deeply personal. I eventually stopped watching the Travel Channel because it had gone to hell, and was delighted to see Tony back in action on CNN’s Parts Unknown. Years later, the same authentic voice that I trusted was back. I thought about all of the experiences that really stuck out to me – Mardi Gras in New Orleans, Missing the talking statues in Caesar’s Palace, Tall rides at Jazzland (is that still a thing?), Seeing rams butt heads going across the Hoover Dam, searching for black bears in the countryside, deciding not to stay at a hotel in a bad storm and on the way back seeing it was destroyed by a tornado…and I felt reaffirmed to make my dreams come true.

Two days ago I took a very long walk to a place I often go to clear my head. I sat down and stared at the ocean for hours; taking stock of my life and reaffirming what I would like to accomplish. Now, this morning I’m awoken to my mom’s voice telling me a stranger – someone I would never meet but knowingly (dare I say) loved – was gone from this world. It may sound cruel, but ‘celebrity’ deaths usually do not impact me. I think it’s sad for a moment and then go about my day as usual. However this time, I jumped out of bed and stayed where I currently am now – in front of the TV waiting to see a tribute assembled. It feels like a small part of me, something that has become a part of my collective, has died. One of the few determining factors of inspiration that I keep buried deep in my heart.

May Mr. Tony Bourdain find whatever he was searching for in this life, in the next one. I hope he knew how many people his work truly touched. I hope to see the Vietnam he loved. I hope we realize just how important it is to live and accomplish our goals. Our dreams. Our aspirations. I hope we never feel the fear of jumping out of our comfort zone to try something new. And I hope we all continue to travel. Best wishes, and stay safe everyone.