Seeing as how the waiting game is quite possibly the only game I dislike more than League of Legends, the past few weeks since receiving my initial offer have not exactly been celebratory.

That’s not to say that I’m not completely beside myself with excitement and gratitude. I just want to be smart about it.


Photo by Ben White via unsplash

I’ve often felt that the best outlook for me is one of cautious optimism.


While it’s pretty unlikely that everything could go wrong at this point, I still maintain that it would be foolish not to consider that such a disaster is possible. I’m not the world’s biggest basketball fan, and yet watching Perdue lose their place in the final four last night chilled me to my very core. Not because I had a vested interest in either team, but because I saw the horrific consequences of celebrating early.

Yet living a life of cautious optimism carries challenges of its own. There is a subtle, yet powerful art to keeping this mindset without falling completely into a state of fear and existential crisis. I have yet to master it, though I believe I’m taking steps to become more proficient in doing so.

There are several things about myself I wish to either improve and/or preserve prior to my departure. Some are more quantifiable than others. Those in particular would be as follows;

  • My state of physical fitness

  • My Japanese language abilities

  • My willingness and ability to practice mindfulness

  • My readiness to join a punk rock cover band upon arrival on Japan

Seeing as how yesterday was cold, rainy, and I couldn’t sit still enough for anything that could be considered meditative, I decided to work on the second and fourth items.

Man with glasses and argyle sweater filming self playing guitar

Despite numerous attempts, I was unable to capture myself playing the sweet riffs featured in “VIVID” by Fairy Fore (フェアリィフォーレ).


I’ve always been drawn towards Visual Kei bands, having grown up a fan of western glam rock and heavy metal acts. Fairy Fore is one such group, who’s catchy chord progressions were hard for me not to jam along with.

And perhaps it’s not best practice, but I thoroughly enjoy attempting lyric translations as a way of improving my Japanese. At the very least, it seems to be a good method of expanding my vocabulary. So even though I may not be picking up on certain grammatical points, I’m definitely learning new words as I start to see them repeated in different songs.

Then again, I suppose it may not be anytime soon that my growing ability to profess a torturous, unrequited love in broken Japanese will come in handy. I haven’t even tried that in English.


Having been a decidedly positive expenditure of time, jamming to Visual Kei bands secured its place as a suitable “waiting for Japan” activity.


And like most activities I engage in, this one also found a way to remind me that I’m no longer pleased with the appearance of my hair. Perhaps a man of nearly 30 is best suited keeping such thoughts to himself, but I challenge any other thinning rocker to look me in the eyes and tell me they don’t wish they could headbang with the confidence of Takashi Genouzono.

Alas, all the more reason to make time for these blog posts, as I’m starting to think that they themselves, are my exercises in mindfulness.

There is an older, balder Joe just a few years in the future - and I’m certain he is wishing he could shake some sense into me every time I express anything other than gratitude for my circumstances. He knows that just like everything else, these next few months will be over before I know it.

So before I get any closer to becoming him, I’m going to keep doing my best to stick to the aforementioned list of acceptable pre-Japan activity categories.

Maybe I’ll even read The Tao of Pooh on the elliptical tonight.