I am visited by bats nightly here in Japan. Every evening as the sun begins to fade the bats fly out over our balcony ready to feed. They are whisper quiet as they swoop and dive for their night’s meal. I regard bats as magical creatures, they teach us about the importance of embracing death in our lives. This isn’t just physical death, but the letting go of ideas and patterns that no longer fit.
In preparing for our two-year journey to Japan, my family and I went through everything that we owned and accumulated over the past ten years (or longer) and decided what we were ready to let go of. I told people that this was a continual lesson in surrender. Because as I looked over everything, it wasn’t just stuff I was looking at, but little pieces of my identity that I accumulated along the way. Old college notebooks, and textbooks that I just kept packing from place to place. Not realizing that I was packing around fragments of my ego that I kept trapped in a box. I decided to release those items realizing that holding on to them was no longer necessary to satisfy the idea of who I thought I was or should be. I honored that and grieved the loss as I shed the ideas and expectations of past versions of myself. This is what surrender is, a deep acceptance of what is rather than the illusion.
Before moving here, I was often asked, “But what are you going to do when you get there?” Frankly, I have not figured that out nor do I feel rushed to. I wanted to go into this experience without any pre-conceived ideas of what my life would look like. I do know that in moving to Japan I was ready to let many aspects of my current life die. So each night as I watch the bats, I am reminded of that choice. But I also know that in death, rebirth and renewal are what follows. This process has not been instantaneous which I am grateful for. Some death can be painful and abrupt, this has been gentle and thoughtful.
So, a month into this new chapter, these are the questions that I will sit with:
- What within me is ready to die?
- What within me is ready to be alive?
Just a little footnote. The question, ‘what within me is ready to be alive?’ is a question author and friend, Jacob Nordby has asked me several times and I wanted to give him credit for such a great question.