South Korea: A learning experience, not a vacation

South Korea: A learning experience, not a vacation

Written with learning love for others and self…


I just returned from spending 5 nights and 4 days in South Korea. There was no fanfare nor excitement. It wasn’t planned by me but I just happened to go along. That was where it all started wrong for me. I had no interest but decided to go anyway against my better judgement; against my very nature and personality. The unfolding events should not have been a surprise but hurt never-the-less.

So this trip only served to confirm things I knew about myself and also to highlight the fact that very innate things about myself cannot be overlooked or simply changed because I have a desire for them to change, if even momentarily.

‘Diving’ into this trip required spontaneity and if you know me even a little bit, as I know myself, I have not a bit of spontaneity in my being. I’ve tried on countless occasions with very little success. Dare I say, this trip to South Korea was an ‘expensive’ attempt at being spontaneous.

I travelled with a group of 3 other Jamaican ladies, God bless their hearts. It was the first time for me to travel for vacation of sorts in which I should have planned of sorts. But it was an uphill task from the very beginning because of my lack of interest. There was no fanfare of excitement to go on a plane and travel to a new country for the first time. That is when I realise this trip was definitely all wrong.

There was a lack of unity and camaraderie and the apparent division reared its head over and over again. This kind of disunity goes against my very nature as I like to keep things and people together. I tried to deal with it and resolved that whatever was happening could be overcome, but it just got worse.

I had hoped also since I had not planned and researched as I would for myself, being the technical person that I am, that I would attempt to roll with the flow of the trip. Unfortunately their was no flow and so my spontaneity thirst was frustrated more than quenched, exhausting me greatly in the process. I gave in to the exhaustion and the internal torture and blame was hurled at me from every internal angle possible.

My thoughts raced to the ¬†moments of highs on the trip where I felt genuinely happy, but those were short-lived as I relived the seeming apathy and segregation of the group. It can be easily said that I am the one who separated myself from the group and while I wouldn’t deny it, I would defend it. I attempted to rejoin the group as it were but that momentary separation threw the course off track and unlike a race car mete when after making a pit stop you can jump back in the race and it would be as though you were never missing, the effects of my pit stop were evident and couldn’t be caught up to. So I continued for the remainder of the trip solo, trying not to beat myself more than I already had.

I might be thought of as a negative person by some, but I’m a realist and not negative at all. It would be for a lack of knowing me that some may think me negative. Being a thinker and a planner causes me to think of things way in advance and seek to preclude any ills that could occur. So you can imagine this unplanned trip with its many ills had my poor mind in excruciating pain.

So what did I learn or was reminded of in all this [about myself]?

  • I’m not spontaneous, unless even the spontaneity is thought of ahead of time
  • I am a thinker and a planner
  • I enjoy communication, so I expect people to respond
  • I fail to realise that humans are poor communicators so I still expect it from them, driving myself nuts in the process
  • I expect too much from people including common sense responses
  • I keep forgetting how selfish and self-centred human beings are naturally
  • I am very sensitive to atmospheric disturbances, people and presence
  • I am very discerning, logical and rationale, while being a person of faith
  • I detest apparent incompetence and time wasting
  • I detest disunity, apathy and genuine disinterest
  • I am mostly quite aware of what is going on around me and I’m irked and peeved by those who seem clueless
  • I can’t pretend or hide my emotions
  • I need time alone to reset my emotions so I don’t become too judgemental or hard on myself and others for our natural differences
  • I still want the best for others and try to love them through my own short-comings
  • NOW I KNOW WHAT IT MEANS TO PLAN A VACATION FOR MYSELF EVEN IF IN A GROUP…never really been on a vacation of sorts that I planned before ūüôā

There are many other things I’ve learnt of myself and others and my interactions with them and I hope to become a better person by them; to be more tolerant; and to be more loving.

I take full responsibility for this most recent experience because I failed to respond to my very nature but instead tried to go against it. Bad idea…lol.

A Bad Spot…or a Good Spot

A Bad Spot…or a Good Spot

It’s been a¬†year since I’ve been in Japan and it has been a roller coaster of emotions, a re-introduction to who I am and who I thought I was and a doorway to the minds of how some people think, I think.

The first thing going forward is that I should not expect too much from people. Whether they are Christians or not, Japanese, Jamaicans or foreigners, English speakers or non English speakers. Do I really want to put these emotions out there? I’m thinking as I write¬†because I’ve been in a bad spot for the past 3 weeks or so but which got worse since¬†I moved¬†a week ago to a new city.

Without planning to change my company or job, I found myself in the position where I felt it necessary to do so. I lived practically in isolation for the past year in my old city and had it not been for my the associations made at my Japanese church and Japanese classes, I’d have been a complete loner. And the truth is I’ve practically been a loner (introvert – yup) all¬†my life, but that was a choice I had in Jamaica. Here in Japan the loner probability increased significantly. I wanted to try and change this however.

I had to learn the hard way, several times, that not because you are friendly to others it means they will be friendly to you or want ‘hang out’ as it were. I experienced that with someone who said they would “hang out” but never did. The group I came to Japan with didn’t really seem interested in hanging out either but did go out in their separate cities as we were all living in different cities, far from each other. Reaching out to others wasn’t necessarily reciprocated or welcomed. What was I thinking?

I did reach out to a few Japanese persons and met a few at my church.¬†I seemed to have lost one of the first Japanese friends I thought I had however, without so much of a warning or reason. I still don’t know what happened, but they stopped coming to church and stopped communicating even though I reached out to them. If you know me, you may be wondering, what is¬†happening to me and honestly, I don’t know. God at work…

Let’s fast forward to my new city which is even worse in isolation in my opinion…I could be wrong since I haven’t explored everywhere. But here is what just made me feel super bad from the beginning. Of the small group of us, I’ve been placed in the most remote area. Two persons have been placed on the same apartment building and yet another three persons have been placed on the same apartment building in another location. Now to be honest, one person has been placed in an apartment building by themselves but they are closer to the city and amenities and they’ve been living in Japan for over 5 years which means they can speak Japanese very well. Yeah. So it’s me alone in the bush with almost no Japanese and no one nearby. Blessing in disguise maybe.

Now I’m already hearing, “Don’t look at other person’s situations,” and so on, but too late, I’ve already looked, already got depressed, already cried to God and asked WHY? I haven’t been in that spot in over 10 years, where I’ve asked God why? And with all that was going on here in Japan, I was not hearing from my mom and brother. Sigh…

I’ve left out a lot of details because I’m not seeking pity, nor empathy even…I’m past that now because I have once more reduced the expectations I have of people. Instead I’m going to do my best to reach out when I feel led to do it – a bit of a redundant thing because I’m always seeking to connect people to people and checking up on them – and protect my heart and mind without sacrificing the purpose to which God has called me.

So my tears are all dried and my thoughts have become clearer as I look past the obstacles of my new move. I look forward to the challenges and rewards of the upcoming school year and another year of living in Japan.


Japan Museum Hopping: Takahama Kawagawa Museum

Japan Museum Hopping: Takahama Kawagawa Museum


I went to the Kawagawa Museum on my birthday to explore the landscape exhibit. It was a small exhibit housed on the 2nd floor of the museum. It was a landscape exhibition featuring old and more recent works of varying artists. I had no plans to do what I did but when I got inside, I immediately reached in my bag and pulled out a notebook and pen.

I’m not sure what I hoped to achieve by documenting thoughts on the artworks but I did. Maybe I somehow hoped to learn more of the Japanese culture through their art. I went through each piece and only documented whatever the work communicated to me…

The subtle hues joined together broken by lines of beautiful patterns, though different, in such harmony, none competing. They paint like they print with outlined edges, single fading colours merging into the art work’s focal subjects. The culture of the people is captured in these early works dating from 1830 and later. They are like pen and ink for details, with screen block prints to create layers.

Images of what was: of shrines and temples. The print like works bear identifying marks in red rectangles. One appears consistent as a signature and I suppose the other is the name of the art work? I don’t know.

The print-like painting on paper flows into harmony with the ceramic pieces leading into the oil paintings on small wooden and chipboard blocks, giving me that nostalgic feel of some of our older Jamaican artists like Carl Abrahams and John Dunkley, with these 1923 murky landscapes. The smaller paintings gave way to huge paintings on canvas with oversized frames dated 1919, 1920 and 1960. Paintings with and without frames; traditional and modern; paint so thick and paint so thin, reflecting life and livelihood in tranquillity.

So grey and flat this huge piece hung, yet still its story was not lost below the grey rooftops. Share my story, this painting begged, with a lone figure almost completely hidden by shadows and shrubs. And life continued above their head, a reflection of the hope yet to come.

Did the painter Gauguin return in 2002 to an Asian place without his love for the tropical natives and forgot about the life of colour?

The 1970 piece screamed in memory of Cecil Cooper. Large scaled, textured hues, overlapping surfaces, enticing investigation. Unidentifiable, un-placeable time in space. A mystery no doubt that keeps one searching beyond the outlined horizon.

Was this life back then, with factories and hills colliding? So many planes on this flat surface, none more right than the other, created a year after I was born. It reflected levels to which I too will someday add to the life we live on this earth.

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