I started journaling again. Just like the 9-year-old me.
And 10, and 11, and 12, and 13. By the time she turned 14, she was writing 20 pages per day.
I am not even joking. That was how much I wrote. In fact, writing was probably the only solace in my life back then. There wasn’t much to look forward to, really. I remember spewing the entire insides of me–still raw, bloody and undigested–onto lined papers was the utmost priority. Over homework. Over TV. Over friends. If I actually had any.
So I picked up writing again, to honor the little child. To tell her that everything turned out fine. Or at least better. That her scribbles smeared all over old note books were more than worth it. I tell her we will continue to be fine, and better. One letter at a time. (I guess in both sense of the word?) Most importantly, I started writing for me (and the child in me), not for the 400k followers whom Zuckerbot made sure never see my posts, nor the 4.5 people who sympathetically drop by this blog just to see if it still exist. You, yes, the one reading right now. Know that your sparing of pc/mobile battery is much appreciated.
Speaking of followers, I lied. Actually I am currently stuck at 399k on Instagram for the longest time. It was frustrating because it’s like missing the last piece to completing an epic puzzle (which will be placed on the floor for mandatory admiration for about 6 minutes and then spend the rest of its life in a plastic container stacked over others in the store room). I was puzzled (sorry) as to why the Instagram-no-Mikoto refuse to let me complete a mission so close yet so far. But after awhile, I took it as a sign from the universe that some things need to remain incomplete.
I was on a work trip to visit Shokoji Temple in Takaoka City, Toyama Prefecture last November. The historical temple was recognized as National Treasure just recently. To be honest, for someone who has been to countless of temples, Shokoji was just another temple. But I was led in front of a pillar supporting the structure of the main temple hall, which was apparently constructed upside down. On purpose. And then I was shown a wooden carving on the exterior of the temple that was left unfinished. Intentionally so.
Why would anyone do that?
Apparently, those are a feature of “mayoke“, a charm to ward off evil spirits. It was believed in esoteric Buddhism that once something has achieved completion, the only fate it will face from then on is… collapse. Disintegration.
In order to prevent such calamity from ever happening, parts of many temples are intentionally left incomplete as a sort of abracadabra to eternal existence. Okay maybe not a literal eternity, since impermanence is the cornerstone of Buddhist teachings… but I am not sure what a metaphorical eternity is either, so… nevermind.
I did not expect to receive such a high quality uketamo message from a temple pillar. Touché, temple pillar. You have my eternal gratitude, dear upside down pillar of Shokoji. (Hopefully I used eternity correctly here.)
So yes, I am grudgingly happy with 399k followers stuck forever, my own omamori as a reminder to not get too big for my boots.
But there’s something else I realized about incompleteness. In quite a different sense, though. Or maybe the same in essence after all. I’m not sure how incompleteness works, exactly.
I realized, that for all my life (evident in decades of ancient scrawls over secret diaries), I was chasing the feeling of incompleteness. Which is ultimately ironic because back then I would have interpreted it the complete opposite: a feeling of completeness.
Something more should happen. Just a little more. Hope a little more. While longing for wholeness, secretly I did not want to be completed. Just like the upside down pillar.
Now that I know pretty well through a series of agonizing events in what we call life experiences that nothing external should ever fulfill me, it feels like an immense loss.
While there’s a growing inner calmness and sense of stability, it is chaperoned by a massive…blank. How do I put it… I guess emotionally articulate people sometimes call it “numbness” (wait, can numb people be emotionally articulate? I need to stop contracting myself…), but that’s not quite it. It’s like a black hole of… nothing. The black hole where my desire to feel, to connect, was ruthlessly sucked into. In fact, solitude and seclusion is the only state that my mind and this shell of me feel comfortable imagining being in. I’m so close to calling a property agent for a cave that’s on sale for my impending hermitage.
I have come to a curious juncture where spiritual growth meets a huge ass signboard that says “fill in the damn blank”. To be honest, it is pretty terrifying because it could sometimes feel like part of me is dead and nothing much else matters although at the same time it is accompanied by a faint sense of peaceful resignation. This is as opposed to the celebrating of invigorating aliveness within all chaos that I have leeched on all my life in order to so desperately feel. Honestly I am not sure which one is better at this point anymore.
Perhaps the black hole holds a space for expansion, into the unknown. Or maybe it is indeed a metaphorical death I am experiencing right now, of something inexplicable, which is no longer in my favor. And maybe that is actually the start of a rebirth.
All I know now, is that this is yet another stage of my life I have to honor… with all that I have left.
PS: If you enjoy this article or find it helpful, it would mean the world if you could help me support Japan by buying a daikon!