We Are Making Choices Everyday and Sometimes It’s So Visible That It Makes You Laugh

Hello from Canberra, Australia.

It’s been more than 2 years since I left Australia last time. I look forward to seeing old friends as well as making new friends.

I’ll be here till 23 March. My plan is to get to Thailand via Malaysia. I’ve decided this much, but not further than that.

All I want to do is, in short, to be on the road. So, in that sense, I have no goal in mind. But, if you think about it, we are all on the road. Some people keep moving constantly. Some people stay at the same place. I want to be on the road with the spirit of goer.

To stay or to go. If this was a question about traveling in time, I’d have the same answer: I’d keep going in time. This is a metaphorical question, so my answer is metaphorical too, but I don’t want to stay at the same temporal location or to desire to go back to the past. In a metaphorical sense, going back to the past is like being occupied only with old memories.

But let’s talk about the past for now. More than 10 years ago, when a favorite teacher of mine at high school asked me what I’m going to do after studying in Australia, I told him I want to travel around the world and be able to work from anywhere through the internet. This was all before I got to know about Chris Guillebeau and other folks who do that kind of things. My 18 year old self knew it would be possible to do this in a few years time and now there are people living this lifestyle.

I forgot all about this dream until recently. Even when I learned about the concepts like location independence, it didn’t come back to me.

I could have gone to live on the road 2 years ago, but I didn’t. I think I wasn’t aware that I could do it. I bet there are things you want to do right now and perhaps you are not aware that you could do them somehow. Does that sound likely?

I’m happy with what I did and people I met during the last 2 years. I made some great friends and memories, and I wouldn’t have met them if I hadn’t done what I did. So, I’m not going to say I should have gone, but it’s great, because it makes me aware that possibilities are in front of me to grab.

I don’t know what’s going to happen. You do what you do and you don’t know what happens until you actually do it.

By the way, here’s what did happen to me.

I left Japan on 7 Feb. I got to Gold Coast Airport early in the morning on 8 Feb. I was to fly to Sydney from Gold Coast, so I went to Jetstar’s check-in counter to get a boarding pass. The guy at the counter told me I could catch an earlier flight, because I was there… early. I thought about it for a second, and declined his offer. I already had a plenty of time in Sydney to catch a bus from Sydney to Canberra; I didn’t need an extra hour to kill at Sydney Airport. I chose to have a rest at Gold Coast Airport.

At that time, I didn’t realize there was a time difference between Gold Coast (or rather, the state of Queensland, I suppose) and Sydney. So, when I showed up at the boarding gate for what I thought to be my flight, an officer from Jetstar told me I was there too early. I thought it was 10:45am, but it was 9:45am. So, I ended up getting one extra hour, which I didn’t think existed.

With my planned flight, however, there was a problem with the airplane. So, the passengers on that flight had to get off the plane and had to arrange a new flight. Flight, cancelled.

I was supposed to get to Sydney around 2pm with my original flight. By choosing to catch this flight rather than the earlier flight the guy at the counter suggested to me, I ended up getting to Sydney around 3pm. My bus was to leave from International Terminal at 3:15pm, and it takes about 15 minutes to transfer from Domestic Terminal, where I landed, to International Terminal. You know what happened. I missed the bus.

It wasn’t a matter of life and death, but it’s interesting to realize that there was clearly a decisive moment that changed my life to some extent. I mean, all of us do face one decisive question everyday: Should I choose x or not? In this case of mine, it was pretty clear upon reflection. Again, I don’t know what would have happened if I had chosen to get the earlier flight. I wouldn’t have written this post this way for sure. But the rest, I don’t know.

I wrote the “you don’t know what happens until you do it” part of this post before this aircraft exodus story. It’s funny how things happen like that.

Things don’t go as planned sometimes. It was a good reminder and I’m thankful it didn’t cost my life or anything.

On Being Humble and Getting the Hell Out of the ‘Good Enough’ Zone

I had a great lesson today. Here’s what happened.

I was sparring with a Brazilian Jiu Jitsu black belt. He is one of the top players in his division in Japan, and around my size. I’ve never made him tap before, though I came close to it once or twice.

I managed to catch him with my favorite technique – triangle choke just like the other times I got close to beating him. What was different this time is that I didn’t let him escape like before.

Beating someone in sparring is not that big a deal. But at that moment when I felt I could get him finally, I had a thought that distracted my decision making. I’m sure I had a few other better options than sticking with what I was doing. Even if I were to keep going with triangle choke, I could adjust the angle and so on. But, I didn’t. I was afraid of making such a tiny adjustment. Or perhaps I didn’t think he would be able to defend himself.

He managed to keep going without tapping for 4 minutes. If he hadn’t been a top black belt, I’m sure I would have made him tap. But he is a top black belt. He defended himself successfully and smashed me right after I gave up this triangle choke attack.

What did I learn from this experience? I learned a little bit about myself and what I want to do.

1) I get lucky sometimes like this.
2) I am good at getting lucky, because I train to catch those lucky moments.
3) But, if I can’t take advantage of those lucky moments, it doesn’t mean much.
4) My triangle choke is probably good enough to finish the majority of grapplers in a situation like this one.
5) But, my triangle choke is not good enough to beat top players like this black belt.
6) I don’t want to do brute strength moves to cover the lack of super fine details that my triangle choke is missing.
7) I don’t want to settle with my good enough triangle choke either.
8) There’s something to do with my mental state as well – I was calm ‘enough’, but I did feel like, “Shit! I’m going to get him finally! Whaaaaa!”. This probably disturbed my decision making.
9) What can I do? Make no excuses. Work on super fine details and my mental strength!

You gotta work on fine details if you want to get the hell out of the ‘good enough’ zone. I don’t want mediocrity.

Can you relate yourself to my experience? If so, what did you learn?

You Must Create Music From That Loneliness

Miyazawa Kenji‘s poem “Kokubetsu” (or Farewell in English) gives me goosebumps. I want to share this poem with you, but I’ve never seen this poem translated from Japanese into English. So, I translated it. It ended up being as if I’m telling Miyazawa’s poem in my own voice, so please keep in mind that this translation is not perfect in terms of accuracy. Also, translating from one’s native language into a non-native language is really, really difficult; this is the best I can do now. If you are fluent in Japanese and want to give us a better translation of this poem, please do so. I’d be happy to share it with others or fix my translation.


Farewell – Miyazawa Kenji

I bet you probably don’t know how it sounds when you play those three notes with your contrabass. That joyful feeling, full of honesty and hope, almost blew my mind away like a piece of grass.

If you understood the character of each sound and a countless number of rich sequences fully, and if you could use them as you wish, you would do difficult, yet bright and divine work.

Just as famous musicians in this country took up their instruments when they were young, and already established their own schools, around the same time, you took up a drum made of leather and a flute made of bamboo.

But, among 10,000 people living in this town and that village, there are probably about 5 of them around your age who are as talented and capable as you. Every one of them, however, would lose what they have within 5 years. It might be because they have to work or because they simply give up. No kind of talent, power, or resource will stay with us forever. Not even people stay with us either.

I didn’t tell you, but I won’t be here at this school anymore from April. I will have to walk a dark and steep path.

If you lost the skills you have now, the right tone of your music, and the brightness you carry with yourself after I had left the school, I will not take care of you anymore. Because what I hate most is the majority, who feel comfortable and satisfied with the little bit of work they can do.

If you…

Please listen carefully.

When you fall in love with one sweet girl and think of her, there will be a statute in front of you, a statute made of countless shadows and lights. You must turn it into music.

When everyone else enjoys living in town and plays all day, you will cut grasses alone at that stone field. You must create music from that loneliness.

Bite every contempt and misery and sing anyway.

If you didn’t have a music instrument…

Listen, my disciple.

Play, as best as you can, the pipe organ made of lights that spread across the sky.


This gives me goosebumps, because it feels like he’s talking about me. No, in fact, he’s talking about me. And you. You are one of those people who’s got what it takes. I’m one of them too. But what are you going to do about it? What am I going to do about it? Are we going to spoil what we have so we can walk a safe path that leads our dreams to death? We could spend the next 20 years, 30 years, 40 years, or 50 years walking that path. Or we could choose another path where things are dangerous, but you feel alive. I’m not here to judge which is better, but I do want you to choose what you want to choose rather than following what others think is good for you.