It is with an intense sense of relief that I am sitting here typing this. The past three or four months have been, easily, the most hectic time of my life so far. I realize this is merely the problem of having a productive life on earth, and fully expect it to get busier as the days, months, years go by. I will accept that challenge when it arises, but for now, this time was intense enough to satisfy the morbid cravings of the last shredded remains of any over-achiever in me.

The reason that I’ve been away from blogging for so long is primarily thanks to my being committed pretty heavily to my job. Working 10+ hour days, 6 days a week while scavenging a life outside of work can start to add up fast, and during the past 5 or 6 weeks, I felt distinctly as though I was running on the final scrapings of the last reserves of my energy, and physically, all I wanted was sleep, all the time. The only thing that kept me going was the thought, I cannot lose to this.

I have a general interest in personal growth and, since my introduction to Japanese social philosophies, an avid obsession with “becoming stronger”. I feel as though this almost-academically-observational sense of perspective of my own experience, as well as that of others’, affords me a certain unsympathetic awareness of my innate human weaknesses and an ability to overcome them.

As most of my more melodramatically tragic habits are, I believe I picked this tendency up from GACKT. I thought often of the stories of him literally working until he collapsed, fell ill, etc. While these instances are examples of pushing extremes unhealthily far, the core value demonstrated within them has inspired me greatly, and I’ve carried the base sentiment in the not-so-back of my mind through this intense and hectic period.

“Only those who will risk going too far can possibly find out how far one can go.”
-T.S. Elliot

When natural energy became replaced by caffeine, pain-killers and pure willpower, I got to the point where every day my body was telling me no, while my mind continued to say yes. In the beginning, it was a struggle to make it through the craziness of each day, and in many ways, it only got harder as the weeks went by. But also, like moving through physical pain barriers and the struggles of physical improvement, after a while I could really begin to gauge the progress of my spirit, and how much my capacity to deal with the crazy experience had increased from Day One. Of course, it’s not enough to acknowledge that you’ve grown – from the place of flexing new muscles you didn’t really believe you were building, the desire to become stronger only increases.

I think there’s something really interesting in physically, knowing that you need to stop, and yet mentally, wanting to know how much farther you can take it. In my life, at least, that’s at the root of self-improvement.

Since we’re in the last week of the year, I’ve been considering the hurdles I’ve faced in 2010, and appraising the resolutions I made, and whether or not I was able to achieve them. At the beginning of the year, I wanted to change a lot of things, and part of that was a resounding desire to overcome the things I was afraid of, to be able to overcome the things within my mind that held me back. I wanted to live my life to the fullest that I possibly could — and not in that wishy-washy greeting-card canned response way; I wanted that sincerely. This is very un-zen, and I’ll own that, but I believe at least part of figuring out how to live life fully, is to increase the velocity of your experience as much as you can. Although this isn’t really “living life to the fullest” at all, filling each moment with something and never letting yourself stop, but constantly continuing to add more to your experience is one way of feeling like you’re living life fully, and as a result, discovering, hopefully, what that desire really means.

But as you’re racing along, charging through life, trying to make the most of it, live it to the fullest that you possibly can, at a certain point it seems like it’s entirely too possible to get too lost in the moment, to forget where you’re going, who you are, what you’re working toward and why. The velocity and intensity of experience, any experience, can just completely overwhelm a person’s being, their sense of self.

When you run out of energy, and you feel like you have no strength left to muster, I think everyone has to reach a place where they can acknowledge that there is something feeding their determination. That their “sense of self” is, in fact, rooted firmly somewhere. And the more you get stretched out, the more you drag yourself along independent of that origin, that source, the more you end up on the waning tide.

Drained, exhausted, those last fragments of energy completely sucked dry, feeling sorry for ourselves, the animal need for rest, sleep, rest sleep, overpowering our vision, making us forget who we are and why we do any of it. We forget how we were even able to do any of it.

This is when you realize what your source is. You find that thing that rejuvenates you, restores your strength, reminds you what you’re fighting for. None of it is empty challenge and reaction. For some people, I’m sure that thing that gives you back the will to continue is other people, material pleasures, whatever. For everyone, it’s different. The only thing that is the same is that we all have it, and inevitably, when we’re running on that last store of energy, we return to it. Sometimes we don’t even really know what it is until we’re at the point of total breakdown and suddenly it shows itself to us.

But I believe that whether you know it or not, when you’re there at the point of collapse, some instinct or inspirational nudge leads us back to that source place. Without interrupting the flow of what we’re doing, without taking any steps back, without requiring anything other than a sudden burst of awareness, we tune into that one thing that reminds us, blindingly, of who we are and what defines us, what gives us strength and the will to fight.

Finally, yesterday I had a detestable moment of weakness. Woke up with a pretty lousy cold, and although my now well-trained mind kept telling me to get up and go to work, to push through it, my body was screaming a pretty strong no. My ravaged immune system needs a break, so I’m giving in. Drained, exhausted, feeling sorry for myself, I instinctively turned to something that my being craved more than sleep: music.

Sitting around in the dark, WHAT’S MY NAME playing through at full volume, it was like I was hearing Jrock for the first time all over again. It was like I was hearing music for the first time all over again. All the wiring in my blasted zombie brain seemed to fuse back together again. I was able to remember something I knew all along, but somehow had completely lost track of: Visual Kei and Jrock are that source place I return to when I’m at the point of collapse. Visual Kei and Jrock are what define me, what give me strength and the will to fight. They are what give me the obsession with accepting challenges, and they are what lend me the strength needed to overcome the weaknesses that arise when I am teetering on the point of collapse. It’s this sense of unwavering courage that happens when I’m led to GACKT or MIYAVI‘s music at the right moment that is something I wish I could express in words when I am asked why I am a Visualist.


I find that when I don’t write on Secret Garden for an extended time, when I log into my Dashboard, I always experience this strange paradox of both feeling like a complete stranger, and at the same time, like I’ve finally made it back home.



13 responses to “Tadaima

  1. Hey – I’d just like to thank you for such a deeply inspirational post. It’s nice to know there are others out there as affected by Visual kei and jrock as I am. I’ve been following your blog for awhile now, and it’s never failed to cheer me up and remind me of how music is indeed one of the most powerful forces in this world.
    I have only just started a blog of my own, and would be greatly honored if you were stop in and take a look around at some point.
    I hope you recover from your cold – I’m sure copious amounts of GACKT will prove to be as good a remedy as any. =)


    • Thank you very much for your kind words. I’m very glad to hear that you have been able to find and resonate with those sentiments in my blog. I was extremely impressed by something that MIYAVI said at his live over the summer, although I’m lacking sufficient braincells to pull it up verbatim, it was something along the lines of how dearly he seeks to unite his fans (and people, whoever they may be) through music so that we may all become one regardless of any other factors at work.
      What was so impressive to me, I think, was how someone so cool could stand up there shredding on that guitar, talking about music uniting us and making us one, without it seeming even remotely cheesy.
      It was a little magical (speaking of cheesy, here…let me go all out), I think because I realized that that was something extremely special about Visual Kei/Jrock. It’s really, somehow, in the end, about bringing Visualists together under the light of a positive message or feeling like that. And we don’t have to sacrifice metal to do it.

      Thank you – I am currently drowning my symptoms in a lengthy playlist at full volume. It seems to be working.

      Tadaima kaerimashita.

      • I’m glad to have cheered you up, it must be awful to be struck by a cold at this time of year.
        Thank you, by the way, for being the first to comment on my blog, it’s very inspiring to be welcomed by a veteran of VK like yourself.
        And also, I don’t find such heartfelt sentiments as you expressed above to be cheesy in the least. I have never been to a jrock concert but I still feel that you have managed to capture and channel some of that magical feeling through your words here.
        Thank you for being an inspiration and role-model for all of us demented visualists.
        I am glad to have made your acquaintance.

        And though it’s a day early, merri kurisumasu (merry x-mas).

      • No worries; it’s good to see a new blog arising amidst so many hiatuses in the blogsphere. Often I find that hearing a new voice, gaining some unique perspective, can have an intense ripple effect on the rest of the community. Inspiration feeds inspiration, creativity feeds creativity. Something I appreciate about the Visual Kei blogging community is its general lack of rivalry; we have a common cause, and although much of the content is the same, every blogger’s appreciation of the topic and way that they express the topic is so profoundly unique that, in many cases, each time I read a review, it can feel like hearing a different piece of music each time depending on each reviewer’s perspective take on the release.

        So again, it’s good to see new blogs and new members of the community appear and start getting their thoughts out there. I believe that although everyone approaches blogging, and Visual Kei, and blogging about Visual Kei, with a different mission, set of values, or intention, at the heart of it the core sense of appreciation and admiration is the same, and this is what makes us a unified front rather than a fragmented smattering. Good luck with your blog; I look forward to being inspired by your perspective.

        Although it’s a few days late, メリークリスマス to you as well.

  2. Why hello there, stranger.

    I can fully relate to your sentiments here. Once upon a time, I was working non- stop with little or no sleep at all. It was physically and emotionally exhausting, not to mention socially incapacitating. Yet, it’s hard to turn away – partly due to the “I have no choice” mentality and mostly due to the joy brought about by accomplishment.

    I survived unscathed – or so I thought. I went thru those days without being sick but now, after almost a year, I feel the effects of putting responsibilities above self. My immune system is no longer being subtle in reminding me to take it easy.

    On a lighter note, it was music too that kept me going. Music kept me up during the wee hours of the night and was great company when it was just me (and the resident poltergeist) left in the office. And boy, was it a great de-stressor. As long as I have rock music blaring in my ears, I can handle anything.

    Ok, so I have taken enough space now.

    Welcome home, gp.

    And happy holidays. One of the highlights of this year is being part of, as you say, our little Twitter family. Here’s to more inspired exchanges next year!

    • The human body’s (and mind’s) capacity to fight on is what truly amazes me. That no matter how hard you work, or are working, at something or anything, you can continue adding to it and adding to it. People who can work that hard, to their maximum capacity, impress and inspire me deeply, and I take a sense of pride in knowing the extent to which I can fight. On the other hand, something that struck me during this period of basically nothing but working hard at a job/indentured labor, was that, although the work and atmosphere was highly rewarding and enjoyable, often I wondered what the purpose of it really was.

      While I have the work ethic to do this, work for someone else at something that hasn’t arisen out of myself and my own passionate drive, I also had to stop and think about the things I had to cut from my daily experience in order to devote myself to this work ethic. Although this wasn’t a lifestyle I would have agreed to had there not been a clear end in sight, still it made me really consider priorities and natural drives. It seems almost too easy to get caught up and lost in that kind of devotion to duty and responsibility and forget what you want selfishly.

      I wonder, too, why it seems so much easier to pour all of your strength and hard work into some job, but yet it takes a lot of energy and courage to overcome your own inherent human sense of laziness and put eight or ten hours into blogging, studying, improving yourself and making something of who you are.

      Perhaps that should be my new year’s resolution for 2011?

      Thank you all for the warm welcome back. I feel a VK Talk Show in the wings somewhere. It would be great to get the Twitter family together again to intellectually analyze the preview for Destiny. ;]

      Take it easy-

      • Perhaps it’s because being in a job, you become a cog in a great big wheel…malfunction or procrastinate and the wheel won’t turn. It’s not just about you anymore. Whereas with those personal stuff, you primarily owe it to yourself.

        Ah Destiny. I just heard the preview myself. I reserve my final judgement till I hear the full song. But the comments on youtube are ominous if not amusing.

  3. For a long time I’ve found it difficult to explain to people close to me why Japanese rock and Visual Kei means so much to me, and especially without feeling silly or childish. But it’s that music that has helped me and continues to help me through dark and trying times. I feel like you’ve put into words what so many of us could not. Thank you for that.

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