Japanese Commuter Diaries

INTRO HERE

On the train.

In the daytime, the outside world offers itself as entertainment. Always something new to be seen. Some subtle thing about a place that I missed before.

This is my morning leg.

But what of the night? In the dark, the outside view is gone: obliterated by the bright light in the carriage and the reflections it casts on the windows. What to look at here?

Nature abhors a vacuum, though. So too does our mind. Denied the wide vistas to engage itself, our mind collects more detail from what it has to engage with. We can examine our fellow passengers in more detail now. Furtively, of course, with all the decorum that the social harmony of the car requires. What do a person’s shoes say about them? Their jewelry, or luggage? How do they choose to present themselves to the world, and what telltale signals of their inner self have slipped through?

The seating is the booth type on my train. Like restaurant booths without tables; two person sofas facing each other. When I get to the train early enough, I can get into a booth first. Then, later passengers will tend to avoid sitting in my booth until there is no other choice (they are still skittish about gaijin up here in the countryside). Even then, usually only one will sit; always on the opposite couch, and not directly opposite. Plenty of leg and elbow room still.

Like I said before: in the boondocks here. We are not overcrowded.

On the night leg, the window reflections become mirrors with which to watch fellow passengers. More opportunities present themselves this way. This can be both entertaining and titillating. Here in rural Tohoku, there are not that many gaijin around. And in this country, bedding a white person is still pretty high up on many people’s bucket list. This, along with me being something of a sexy bitch, makes me popular with the racial fetishizing crowd over here (yes, that goes both ways; and you won’t catch me complaining about it). Not bragging; it just is what it is.

As demure as they might seem, Japanese women do find ways to let their interest be known. Surgeons with the coy glances, they are. A nice hour of languid eye fucking, I have found, is a lovely way to end the public portion of my day. Harmless fun.

Not an everyday occurrence, certainly, but frequent enough to be a feature.

I do so love my commute.

Mental Hygiene: The Stop Sign

In order to heal and to improve ourselves it is critical to manage our thoughts. Not control; manage. Start by paying attention to your inner monologue. What kinds of things do you fill your void up with? Are these things you would enjoy hearing from loved ones? If not, you need to work on what you tell yourself.

When I was getting sober, I stumbled on a technique for mental hygiene that has proved helpful. When I caught myself thinking about things that led me into self-destructive mental cull-de-sacs, I would simply imagine a stop sign. That’s it.

This works because, from childhood, a stop sign is a potent symbol. We must stop what we are doing and take a moment to make sure everything is safe. Not only does it disrupt out process, it reassures us. The stop sign keeps us safe. It imposes borders, however illusionary, on a chaotic world.

So, when your mind is taking you someplace you’d rather not be, picture a stop sign. Visualize it as clearly as you can. Look at it. Then, pull the movie camera of your mind outwards. Where is the stop sign? Is it someplace you remember? Let your mind wander from that sign so long as it doesn’t go down any of those nasty, dark roads it likes so well. As soon as it does, crack the whip and get back to the stop sign in its simplest form.

At first I could only manage about five or ten seconds between stop sign mental reboots. But the longer I could stay focused on that sign, the better I got at getting free of those bad thoughts. If nothing else, it was a break from my toxic inner monologue. A break that did not require poisoning myself with booze in a search for oblivion.

If you don’t like what you’re telling yourself, what you can’t stop fixating on:

STOP

Japanese Commuter Diaries

Intro here.

On the train. Between my terminal stations, there are multiple stops on my train ride. The “rapid” version has about five stops. The regular, more.

Three of the stops are fairly big country stations. Two are for towns. The other is for an onsen resort village. Onsen are Japanese hot spring spas. Basically gender segregated, communal (sometimes private) hot spring baths that people soak in. The hotels attached to the spas are usually pretty big, and a popular holiday destination for Japanese folk of all ages.

As my train passed through the onsen village this morning, I happened to be staring out the window at one of the bigger hotels. It’s wide, with at least fifteen stories overlooking the whitewater river. Big and nice.

Most of the room windows had their blinds drawn. My eye was drawn to a window about halfway up.

A man was standing sideways at the window. A woman was seated in a chair right in front of him, clearly giving him a blowjob. Her head bobbing away. Him leaning back in a lower back stretch, watching the train go by underneath.

Predictably, I suppose, the man was wearing a track suit.

The Judged

You can judge me all you want. That’s fine. But it doesn’t stop me from understanding you.

I think I am a troublesome rascal for you, and this is why you pester me so. You have constructed your notions of the world through the prisms of your philosophy, requiring everything be made to fit into stark categories. All this in aid of your Cause. Black and white. Right and Wrong. Those who are evil and must be judged, versus those who fight the good fight alongside you.

Now if I was simply evil to you, I think you would not trouble to assail me. It would be sufficient to stick me with some standardized label of dismissal. But something in my mere existence angers you. I do nothing but quietly live my life in a way slightly different than yours, but still you attack me as though I was the worst of those you fight. Yet I think even you must admit that in your spectrum of evil, I barely occupy the mildest edge.

This is the trouble with stark absolutes. You look at me and see mostly white; yet a white stained with stripes of black. You would decontaminate me of those stains: purify me through an immersion in your philosophy; a baptism into your Cause. What you fail to perceive is that there is no clear division of my parts. Grey is not a dirty white, it is its own entity. And I am nothing if not a spectrum of greys.

“But there is black there,” you may scream, “and I cannot abide it, for I have sworn myself its bitter enemy.”

Well, if I cannot be grey to you, then I must be black, and you must despise me as you do your worst enemy. But I am not your worst enemy, am I? Nowhere near it. And this is why you are so angry with me: for in me you see your Cause’s ultimate failure.

Why I am able to anger you so, simply by asking a question?

Because you have no answer that doesn’t paint me as evil. Your absolutism requires that you convict me based on thoughts you suspect I have. For in your philosophy, thoughts themselves become crimes. Your entire philosophy depends upon this, and without your philosophy, your Cause is mere noise.

You seek a revolution, yet paint those you would have fight for you with the same brush you swipe at your enemy.

So I say again: you can judge me all you want, and I am more than happy to leave you to it. I simply ask that in future you keep your judgements of me to yourself. You are no longer of any more interest to me than a puzzle solved. Until you can speak to me from within the beauty of a spectrum of greys, I have no more use for you.

Good day to you.