Quiet streets

I was walking through an uncharacteristically empty Harajuku a few weeks back (in the interest of full disclosure, it was New Years Day, so it’s not like this was entirely unexpected) and found myself with some time on my hands to think, surrounded as I was solely by empty buildings and quiet alleyways.

meiji dori and harajuku

My mind ended up turning to thoughts about my blog, life and future these days (not necessarily in that order, mind you). It’s been almost 7 years since I moved to Japan and I thought that by now I’d know what I want to do with my life. Sadly, this does not appear to be the case. I think the core issue is that I’m a fickle panda: this is a blessing in that I have many and multi-varied interests, but also a curse because I tire of things quickly. Every time I think I have found something I want to do with my life, three weeks later I decide it’s not really for me and I stop working towards it.

meiji dori and harajuku

The main problem is that once you commit to something in your life, it means you can’t devote equal resources to other interests you might have. Opening and deciding to go through one door, then, necessitates that you shut other doors to other paths that your life could take. If you’re not really sure the door you’re going through is the one for you, then it’s a pretty horrible feeling to shut all those other ones, you know? What about if you figure out a few years down the line that your current path isn’t the one for you?

meiji dori and harajuku

But how do you know? I envy people who (seem) to know what they want to do with their lives. Me? I have devoted countless (undoubtedly emo-angsty-esque) hours to trying to figure out what it is that I want to do, and I’m still no closer than I was was when I was 18 and pretty much freaking out over the same thing. Whither progress, I suppose. It’s tempting to simply resign yourself to the idea that at some point you need to just pick something and decide that’s the way your life is gonna go, but the idealist in me resists this idea: it’s like giving up, isn’t it?

meiji dori and harajuku

Of course, making no choice is like making a bad choice in and of itself, so one needs to get a move on, you know? It’s like marriage: if you never find Ms. Right, do you either: a) just give up and marry some girl who you know isn’t the “best one” for you anyway, or b) not marry anyone at all and just resign yourself to being alone (or at least unmarried), since it’s preferable to settling for second best? The proverbial “rock and a hard place,” I guess.

Now, this presumes that we can ever know what is “best” for us, or even what we really “want” or what would make us “happy” (oh look who went “quote” happy there) in this life. Nobody really knows the answer to this, and so that brings us back to this little pathetic man-boy-panda plodding along his life fully congisant of the fact that time (take that in whichever amorphous, nebulously vague sense you wish) continues to tick in the background whilst I keep filling space with things that are not necessarily leading me in one particular direction or another.

meiji dori and harajuku

Now what does this have to do with my blog, you ask? Well, admittedly the connection is tenuous and limited primarily to “Oh I thought of this at the same time that I was being angsty about life,” but for the past couple of years I’ve been feeling a little “trapped” within the confines of michaelpanda.com. By which I mean, there are many things which I want to write about – divergent interests and such – which do not really fit the “tone” of the panda blog and which may not be of interest to my loyal readers. For example, design-oriented ramblings, geeky entries about web design and coding, entries I have written in Japanese, photography that is a little risque relative to my usual family-friendly fare, or a whole host of things I really want to write about but can’t because friends and family frequent this blog.

meiji dori and harajuku

Until now, I’ve kind of ignored these interests, but I’ve really started to regret not writing them down. In a way, writing is a form of (creative?) catharsis and just letting these interest pass by the wayside is killing me a little. So I’m thinking about maybe starting a couple more blogs focusing on my other side interests and see where that goes as well. Of course, I’m still going to keep Michaelpanda.com as my main blog so don’t worry! I just need to find the time to update all of these on the regular, haha…

meiji dori and harajuku

Speaking of Michaelpanda.com, there is something that has been bothering me about it for a long time – when I first came to Japan as a fresh off the boat n00b, I – experiencing the usual culture shock and frustration we all go through – wrote a few rather uninformed ranting entries under the “Japan – The Bad” category. Of course, I no longer feel like this – and in fact, am quite embarrassed to look back on them – but I told myself that it was important to keep them up there because the fact remains that at some point in my life I felt like this, and there’s worth in keeping them in the “stream” of entries so I can look back and see my “progress” (if that’s the word we can use for it) over the years here in Japan (which pretty much follows this remarkably accurate graph).

meiji dori and harajuku

However, the thing about the intarnets and blogs is that they are often “stateless” in a way. Of course we can put dates at the tops of entries, but nobody really pays attention to that – people come into the blog from who-knows-where googling god-knows-what, land on one of those entries from back in the day, and start reading it, assuming a) that it’s accurate and b) that it’s representative of the way I think or feel now, not taking notice of the fact that I wrote that almost 6 years ago, for example.

meiji dori and harajuku

This bothers me because honestly speaking, a lot of the entries were poorly written, stupid and kind of uninformed. And I don’t want people taking away the wrong idea about Japan (or me, for that matter), or thinking that this is still the way I feel now. But at the same time, it just feels wrong to take down those entries, you know? I’m not the New York Times or anything (hey, I’m not gonna charge you for content ;) ) but I still feel that’s a way of redacting the past, and avoiding owning up for what you’ve have written prior.

meiji dori and harajuku

So after some thinking, the best solution I’ve come up with (though have yet to implement) is to add a little “disclaimer” to the top of all those entries warning people that they were written years ago, are kind of stupid, and certainly are not representative of the way I feel now. That way I can keep the entries up, whilst still drawing attention to the fact that they are rather outdated and inaccurate.

meiji dori and harajuku

What do you think, dear loyal pandablog readers? Any ideas? Do you think I should just take those entries down? Stick a disclaimer up there? Or just suck up the foolish indiscretions of youth and leave them up there for the world to see, sans foreword?

meiji dori and harajuku

I’m sure there are other things I could ramble on about in an angsty manner, but I’ll spare you the rest of my emo-esque babblings and leave you instead with a few more pictures from a very quiet Harajuku.

meiji dori and harajuku

meiji dori and harajuku

meiji dori and harajuku

meiji dori and harajuku

meiji dori and harajuku

That’s it! Thanks for reading!

Now listening to: Above & Beyond: Trance Around the World #300-04: Live in Moscow (featuring Mat Zo)

One of my favourite up and coming artists these days is Mat Zo – he reminds me of the Signalrunners in a way in that there is very little he touches that I don’t like. His part of the TATW podcast from Moscow was by far my favourite of all the guests DJs – definitely worth (the free) download just for this alone!

The following is just a small excerpt (track #12 – ID) from his hour-long set (you can download the entire set on itunes for free) live at the TATW party in Moscow. Mat Zo absolutely tore this set up, so after listening to the sample below, you really owe it to yourself to download the entire thing. Awesome.

4 Reactions

  1. moritheil

    That is very much the issue with commitment, and reading your thoughts, I found myself making the comparison to marriage even as you had.
    I think, however, that not choosing is also a choice. Sooner or later you have to say “This is good,” and choose. Otherwise you’ll find that in the end you chose nothing.
    Of course that’s all very easily said. It may be that you simply haven’t found your cause yet.

  2. Gidget Bananas

    I had a coversation with a psychologist about my inability to decide what I wanted to be when I grew up (sometime in my early thirties). She said I couldn’t decide because I afraid I’d miss something, and called me a snob. I guess she meant I was afraid I’d miss something better, to get to the snob part, but I didn’t inquire further because because I didn’t want to talk to the bitch anymore.
    Anyhoo, I think you should put together all your fall roadtrip stories, along with those gorgeous photos, and get a book published. And then get more books of your photos published, while you continue to do whatever it is you like to do.
    Carry on.

  3. kori

    it’s not important to be defined it’s only important to use your time… or that’s what a favorite singer says.
    man, it’s the angst of our age, I think. the question that keeps us all from sleeping. hell, I run from one thing to another, throwing myself in and then just as quickly dropping it and moving on to something else. I used to be a biochemist….
    but it’s a beautiful life, even full of this confusion, isn’t it?

  4. Buffy

    Oh, Panda…Someone told me recently, “Don’t throw sticks at bears”…or something like that. I don’t know that this has anything to do with your quandary…but it does spring to mind.
    I say it’s okay to take things down. Makes for a peaceful life. If in doubt, remember, nothing ever truly disappears from the internet, I’m sure you’ll still be able to find it, somewhere, if you get nostalgic.