There are certain things the Japanese do less than well when it comes to hygiene. Hot water and soap, for example, one is hard pressed to find at public restrooms, making the admonition to “wash your hand’s a lot” in actuality no more than a cold water rinse. Other hygienic aspects, however, they do very well. There is no shame in wearing a mask when one is sick. Or when one is trying to keep from getting sick. Or when there are allergens floating around. Or to keep warm in the winter. Or to cover up a particularly nasty pimple. But I digress.
Being American, I seldom remember to grab a mask when I am sick, and it took the entire eighth grade at my school getting sent home for influenza last February for me to remember to wear one preemptively. It’s not in my habitual regime yet. Today I’m wearing one. I’m sick. I was sick all weekend, the kind where violent sneezes and coughs come out without sufficient warning to raise my hand to my mouth. I must admit, this is handy. I cough, the mask catches it, and I just keep on typing.
Today the mask has the added effect of making me feel ninja and stealth like. I’m on a new mission, and it is one that is being carefully executed. There are those who disagree. Even when they admit that changes are needed, they think I’m doing this the wrong way. And admittedly I’m probably taking too hard of a line. I know where I would like to be is pursuing an even harder line, but and adviser cautioned me to back off and do this gradually. Even my gradual version is raising protests.
What isn’t understood – what I need to explain – is that my desire to revamp the system is as much an indictment of myself as it is of anyone else. I biffed it last year. I knew I was called to Japan to pray, and you know what? I didn’t pray. Not nearly as much as I should have, anyway. I was distracted, constantly distracted, by the things of this earth. No one, not even those closest to me, realized or realizes the extent to which I did not fulfill my purpose last year. Reader, if you stay with this blog long you will find I am an extraordinarily open person. But that, that is too extreme to share in public, and there are few friends who would find themselves with a true answer should they care to ask.
This year? So far this year the line I am taking is only for myself: I’m choosing not to drink alcohol, not even a glass, not while I’m in Japan. My mental defenses are already steadily and constantly attacked. I don’t need to intake a substance that weakens them.
But there are other lines people don’t yet know about: Monday – Thursday I’m not checking my email or facebook outside of the 5 p.m. to 8 p.m. window. I found I was reading too many emails either early in the day or late at night, when I was too tired to properly absorb them. My time with God in the morning became neglected because I was busy online. I can’t have that. I refuse to have that. What’s more, I’ve decided that within that window, if I haven’t time to properly digest the email, I will cut and paste it into a separate file, to be read at my leisure during the day. People were encouraging me and I wasn’t fully absorbing the power of the encouragement. That is my fault, not theirs. I need to change. I have chosen to change. I refuse to keep living as I have been living. I am called to something better. And I want that which is better.