Sunday, March 15, 2009

"The sky, and not the soul, is changed by one who runs across the sea."

A year ago today, at around six in the evening, I arrived in Japan. Usually I would say either, "It's gone so fast!" or, "It seems like so much longer," but honestly? This time it feels like it's been exactly that length. A year long enough to experience a good many things, but short enough that I'd like to experience more. Perhaps it's because I've been so consistently exposed to the changing seasons, perhaps it's because the school schedule has become so engrained in me that I can't imagine not moving to its rhythm.

Everyone and I mean everyone, when I told them I was going to Japan for a year, said, "It will be one of the best years of your life" and "You'll change so much." I'm not going to argue with the former, but the latter makes me petulant. If I change so much in this year, then the 22 years before that are meaningless. If a person substantially changes, then either the before or after of them is a deceit. More importantly, however - as I would probably change the me that I am despite all that if given the opportunity - is that I'm fairly sure it's impossible to change as much as I would want to without believing in some sort of rebirth. Maybe I've gotten rid of some bad habits here - but picked up new ones. Maybe I've thought some good thoughts - that I'll forget in a week. Have I changed in Japan? Probably - but not nearly enough to satisfy me. Or looking at it from this angle, not enough to be concerned about my veracity.

So maybe at times I thought, "I get it now, this is why I am the way I am, and this is how I can keep it under control," and feel rather tranquil. By the end of the day the tide always changes. And will change again. It doesn't change for good, but it doesn't change for bad either.

Usually the titles of these posts are nothing more than a song that's been running through my head, but this one is a quote that's been important to me for a long time. It's Horace, Caelum, non animum mutant, qui trans mare currunt. I don't think I really understood it until today, possibly because I had memorized a rather awkward translation. While searching for a better one, I came across the fable of "The Stork and His Beak," which is also rather apropos.

I thought about doing another sort of "Best of this Year!" post, but you've been reading all along. You know about it already. You've been here, right?


Which is all to say, the company renewed my contract.

Here's to the chance for another year.


Anonymous said...

Who wrote that quote you paraphrased? I just read it quoted by Toby Young over the weekend, but I forget who came up with the idea.

Emily said...

It was Quintus Horatius Flaccus, from his Epistles.