As I type this, I do so knowing that my time in the states is coming to a close. In a day and a half I will begin the journey back. And in some ways that is a difficult pill to swallow. There are no extra activities in January or February. March is marked by saying goodbye to those who leave at the end of the month. There is little action to look forward to.
One day over this break my older sister reacted with surprise when she learned I watch a certain TV show, not because she objects to the show but because she assumes I am busy. I’m really not. If I don’t skype with people in the states more than I do it is because our schedules don’t line up, if I don’t hang out with Japanese friends more than I do it is usually because of their commitments not mine, and if I don’t email more than I do it is because life is weighing me down and I can’t think of any cheerful or amusing news. I spend my downtime at the junior high studying Japanese because I think that is important, but admittedly, one significant incentive is that there is nothing else to do. In the evening I might teach a class or I might have a meeting. Or I might not. There are multiple evenings when I return and spend the next five hours killing time. I try to workout, learn the guitar, do baking projects, work on my writing, etc. Sometimes I watch a movie or a television episode on the aforementioned sites. I don’t actually like watching TV all that much. Two hours a week is more than enough for me. Far more than most would guess I watch TV to keep from being utterly bored.
While there is little I can do to invent activities beyond what I already have, I do enter this next year with a determination to be intentional. The amount of time I have, combined with my tremendous relational capacity, means no one person can really make me excited about 2014. But, determined to find some hope, I sat down and wrote out that to which I could anticipate: interactions with people. I wrote out a list of who and how much they could handle and ways I should be intentional with them. It varies from person to person. Celeste I will continue hanging out with twice a week. My grandmother I can pen a letter to once a month. My friend Rebecca has two little ones and does a lot of volunteer work, but an email once every two months I don’t think will be too much. In all I comprised a list of 17 people with whom I could extend some measure of personal interaction. And that, that is enough. That is something to look forward to. That is enough to give me hope.