new journey.

Setting out on a new journey.

 23 minutes ago I turned 21. At 12:00AM I bought myself everything my heart desires: a plane ticket to Osaka, departing March 13th.

 I guess this means exist trace and I will pass like ships in the night. I need to sell my exist trace ticket. My ticket is for the Boston live on March 15th, at Middle East Club. VIP only, meet & greet. Ticket: $46 (39.50+7.03, I’ll let you keep the change ;]). Includes S/H. If you know anyone who might be interested, it would be doing me a great favor if you could pass it on. 

Merry Xmas, Visualists!

So I started thinking about what I wanted to do for you all for Christmas, and, given everything that’s been going on recently, it only made sense to use this opportunity to “come out” in a sense on here. Here is a message/playlist that I recorded for you guys. Hope you enjoy it!

Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year from SG. 

Special thanks to Roukun for helping put this together. 

Thanksgiving.

Happy Thanksgiving, everyone! 

Personally, I’m approaching today from a point of its traditional values, yes, in the sense of appreciating and giving thanks for the bounty in our lives, and all of the blessings we are honored with throughout every day of each passing year. To celebrate all of this with the people you really want to give thanks for as well, is a wonderful thing.

But I’m also approaching it as something of a check-in point for myself. Probably should have done this, like, yesterday so that I can feel totally selfless today, but that didn’t happen. I think it’s important to reflect and express gratitude for yourself as well. Well, any excuse, right? [Kidding]. This year I’ve really been trying to steer myself in a new direction, and this has meant reflecting on a lot on my values and priorities, in regards to life and my goals and ambitions, and what I’m doing with myself day by day. It’s so easy to fall into habitual patterns.

It’s like, you can look into your past and pinpoint the time at which a spark was struck; a dream ignited inside of you. A dream, or probably dreams, that flared up, somehow, out of nowhere and really stuck. Dreams you thought you would see come to fruition; dreams you were sure would really come true. And you dreamed and you dreamed until you couldn’t dream anymore because you couldn’t do anymore, and like a match that you lit under a waterfall, finally you can’t protect it with the clammy palm of your hand, cupped so protectively over a whim, fizzled out, leaving nothing in its wake but years’ worth of thinking and hoping and believing and the acrid scent of smoke.

Looking back on dreams you held onto for what felt like forever. Dreams that finally locked the door on you and, pushing
you into that chair you spent so many hours sitting in and dreaming and hoping and believing, and making you decide –and
I mean really decide– whether you were going to make those dreams come true.

That’s what I’ve been working with in this second half of 2011.

Over the summer, I hit a pretty solid low point that lasted a few months. My own inability to attain the goals I was reaching for, or rather, planning on reaching for, floored me. And while it was going on, as miserable of an experience as it was, I just kept reminding myself that it was one of those true learning experiences. I didn’t know what I was going to learn from it yet, I just knew I had to trust that there was a valuable lesson in there somewhere, and if I could let go of the urge to grasp at the illusion of the solidarity of my habitual patterns, I knew the lesson would show itself to me.

And it did. Just when I thought the feeling of futility and worthlessness would go on forever, things started changing. And as I’m sure a lot of you know from experience, it’s not exactly a and then the clouds parted and the meaning of life was revealed  kind of experience. It’s a gradual process of realization — one that doesn’t have a black-and-white, clean-cut beginning or end, but one that occasionally gives you some kind of sign that you’re getting on or off an exit along the way.

Part of this process was allowing small changes. And part of being able to allow those changes was to create a space in my experience, both in the mental and the material senses, for them to emerge. And part of that was giving myself permission to give up on some of the dreams and desires I’d been holding onto for a long time — years. A lifetime. Or, if you believe in karma, which I do– then probably for many lifetimes.

I’d been hanging by a thread for a while, obstinately pushing ahead out of a sense of stubborn refusal to, in essence, give up. And this is all starting to sound pretty miserable, like I’ve been crushed by the weight of my goals and my own inability to achieve them, but that’s not what I’m trying to get at here. What I’m really trying to say is that at the very heart of this process of self-reflection, eventually you have to be straight up and honest with yourself about how you’re spending your life. Whether the goals that you’re trying to achieve are goals born out of passion and seen-through out of passion, or whether they are goals born out of passion and fought-for out of obligation.

I stumbled across a quote that I had written down in a notebook some time previously, that really spurred me on in this process. It said,

 Relaxation is who you are.

Tension is who you think you should be.

-Chinese proverb

I thought a lot about this; I applied this to my life as a kind of view to guide my decision making. And it guided me to a point where I was OK acknowledging that I had outgrown a lot of the goals and aspirations I was struggling so hard for. But even though I got to a point where I had to say, alright, it’s time to move on from this, part of me, the one that wants to see things through to the end and achieve the things I set out to do, didn’t want to let it go. It strongly urged me to “just do it, because you’ve already come so far,”, and I hesitated over it because it was logical. Like, if I shelved these dreams now, wouldn’t all the past years’ worth of work just become a waste of time?

 But then, especially as the prospect of this time of acknowledgment and thanks-giving began quickly approaching, as I just sort of let the thought hang in the back of my mind in the form of an open question, not really expecting an answer right away, I kind of came to something of an understanding of all my work up to this point.

 All the past years spent working toward the goals that I’m now putting behind me, or at least setting aside for the time being, were not a waste of time. Setting them off to the side and starting off on new ventures is not a defeat; I’m not seeing this as “losing” to myself. On the contrary, I look at all the work I have done, all the goals and dreams I have had, as extremely important steps toward the greater aspirations that are definitely going to arise out of the ashes of the original dreams.

 The dreams that I was clinging to, and the goals I was grasping for so long, have made me who I am. They are huge steps in the winding  ascent of my life. I don’t see them as failures, or even as childhood dreams that were foolish and unattainable, because I still do believe they were, or rather are, very attainable. I was the only thing getting in the way of attaining them, and in realizing and coming to terms with that, I’m able to see the necessity of all of it. And so, I am unendingly and extremely grateful for all that they have brought to my experience. They have given me tools and knowledge that will propel my progress on into the future. Those dreams of the past made the dreams of today possible, and the determination to live fully, with purpose and meaning, could, for me, only be born out of their death.

 Today I am giving thanks for that. Great, great thanks. I am thankful for the conditions I was born under, and the conditions I am living under now. I am giving thanks for the people in my experience, many of whom I am very blessed to be acquainted with, and many, many of whom I have yet to encounter face to face, but who have, regardless, contributed greatly to this life I am leading.

 I can but hope that I may return this gift to you all ten-fold. And even if it was necessary for me to abandon all of my goals, I should still hope that every day I could wake up to yet another opportunity to always, in every moment possible, be expressing gratitude for all of this.

 All that aside, or perhaps better to say “all that in mind”?, I feel like this might be a somewhat relevant theme for the day. Enjoy your holiday!

So everybody – everybody
Days we grew up are days
We will treasure
Everybody show is beginning
Curtain has risen
Make your own storyline
Dream as if you will live forever
And live as if you’ll die today

 

*Chaosmyth by ONE OK ROCK,
from the album Zankyou Reference (2011).

 

 

Secret Garden 2.0

Welcome to Secret Garden 2.0!

I can’t believe in all of the 2+ years I’ve been running this thing, it’s never had a makeover. Lately, though, it’s felt like everything could use a bit of a facelift–my blog, my life, I don’t know, whatever. I’ve been struggling to hold my interest in keeping SG updated. I buy and enjoy albums and singles, but don’t review them. Long story short, I’ve just outgrown the original, and it’s time to level up.

I’m pretty stoked on it, if I’m perfectly honest. As you can see, theme and header are brand new. Pages are now up top, and dropdowns, so there are multiple pages stacked in there… They’ve also been rearranged a little bit. A few have been completely revised. Check them out if you feel so inclined. The sidebar and widgets have also been moved around and edited– I find that it can take a few tries to get the sidebar right…So if anyone is having problems with it or encountering issues, do me a favor and let me know so I can smooth out the kinks.

There’s a lot I would still like to update, develop, and refine, but for now I’m okay with taking all of this one step at a time. It feels good to have a new face, and I’m sure the rest will follow suit.

Part of the reason I really needed a change was due to the fact that GACKT has pretty much always been the face of SG. He’s graced the header, sidebar, and pages for the past two years. This is all well and good since I have so much respect for GACKT, but on the other hand I felt like the image was misleading–to myself, as well as readers. My blog isn’t a blog about GACKT. And I realized the other day that I don’t even want to say it’s a blog about Visual Kei. Honestly, there have been a few instances in which I have felt inspired to write about something, but I decided not to because I felt it veered from the path I was trying to take. This has helped develop a sense of congruency (I hope) in content, but on the other hand, I honestly couldn’t give less of a shit about congruency right now. Seems blase.

So as things continue moving forward here, I hope to start introducing new bands into the flow. Film and drama reviews might show up after a while. I might throw some other genres, perhaps even some Asian music that’s not Jrock, in there if it’s sick enough.

All of this oh, no point in blogging because Visual Kei is idle is starting to get boring. I’d like to take a minute right now and just go ahead and choose not to let that get in the way. Just because bands aren’t releasing endless amazing albums doesn’t mean we all just pack up our headphones and throw sheets over our speakers, does it? When D’espa disbands and it seems like all hope is lost, what kind of playlists are you rockin’? I’ll show you mine if you show me yours.

 Here’s to new beginnings.

2nd Anniversary

I scheduled this post to go up today, but actually I’m writing this on Monday the 4th, around 1AM. I’ll be traveling all day Wednesday, but I wanted to ensure that something went up to acknowledge an important marker in my days as a Visualist. Today, Wednesday, April 6th, marks the 2nd anniversary of Secret Garden, as we know it on WordPress.com.

I’m sitting up awake right now for two reasons—I’ll leave it to you to judge how I should prioritize them–, the first being that I can’t stop craving the maccha ice-cream in the freezer. The second reason is that now that I only have two days left here on the west coast, I’m starting to experience a lot of resistance to heading back east.

A month is a long time, and while it has flown by for me, as I look back on it from here, the end, I can see how many shifts and changes occurred while I’ve been away. The biggest shift, and one thing I want to mention now as I did not have a chance previously, was the earthquake that hit Japan the second week of March. Although I was unable to catch the news from where I was, fortunately I have sympathetic friends who kept me informed as to what was going on, and I’m grateful to them for keeping me in the loop. One of the best texts from that week was my mom checking in to see if I had been able to hear about ‘the Visual Kei guys’ in relation to the trauma.

The articles that have been shared with me that showed even small examples of the devastation were enough to shake even an iron-clad heart.

Since the quake, I have witnessed glimpses of the Seattle Japanese community rallying to assist with the relief efforts, including gathering encouragement and spiritual support, as well as raising funds. I’ve been grateful to be in the presence of that, and party to it in whatever way. My thoughts continue to be with Japan as it gathers its strengths to restore and renew, and my thoughts are especially with the families and individuals who have experienced hardship, loss, and discomfort as a result of the quake. がんばれ日本!

In a perfect world, I would probably have canceled my ticket a week ago and started looking at apartments here; but I’ve had a month to be selfish and live in a, if not exactly perfect, then pretty damn fine little world. Now this session is up, and there are people and obligations and responsibilities waiting for me that I need to go back and take care of.

I’ve been resisting the pull of these obligations. I guess once I started thinking about returning, I became afraid of going back and getting sucked into unchanged scenery, into that low-def daily-grind of Bill Murray’s Groundhog Day. However what I realize is that everything has changed since I left. Situations and circumstances have changed. New faces will be there to greet me, and the ones who saw me off will be different people from when we said goodbye.

This has taken shape in different ways, but primarily in the form of major shifts and changes in my personal life and, particularly, my family situation. I thought I was going to come back to the same patterns and flow of habits, but now that I see what is actually waiting for me, it’s a creature of a very different breed.

It’s a beautiful thing, really. You set out on some path, real or interpretive, without really knowing who you are or, in the end, what your destination will be. Trying to see through the fog of the great-unknown is a fruitless expenditure of ones’ energy, and will get you nowhere. All you can really do is stick to what you’re passionate about, what you’re interested in, and trust your gut instincts—trust those tools to guide you through that uncertainty and the discomfort that comes with it. Trust that you’re going to wake up one morning and go to look in the mirror and realize that you don’t recognize yourself anymore, and that, in my experience, can be a really powerful moment.

I feel like I’m at a new beginning place, a crossroads. Today I concluded one section of my life, and am getting ready to face the challenges of new paths and doorways opening up before me. It seems fitting…somehow, meaningful, in my eyes, that today is the day that I open a new doorway by heading back to the east coast; the day that I start a new chapter by beginning my 3rd year of blogging on WordPress.

Right now, I don’t know what will change, but I do know it will change.

Many thanks go out to everyone who reads Secret Garden. Special shout-out to that select few of you, known and unknown, who have been reading since the very early days on Vox and WP. Thanks also to the people who support me from the sidelines and put up with all the off-blog Visual Kei ramblings.

So I thank you. Keep reading Secret Garden.

gacktpause