3.18.2007

The Project!

The main focus of this blog was initially to document our experiences here in Japan. Now, as we incorporate what we have learned along the way and make our plans for heading home, we are changing the focus somewhat.

The whole Cultural Vertigo theme still stands. We have been told to expect the reverse culture shock to be more significant than the shock of moving here. Having been away for two years has changed us. We will not simply be stepping back into our old lives.

The changes are not only cultural, they go much deeper than learning to live in another culture. The biggest changes have been in the realm of ideas.
Before we get into that, some background for those who are less familiar with us.

I suppose that we are pretty average, at least we think that we are. We are a family of 4. My wife and I were married in 1995 and we have two kids, born in `97 and`99.

We are both university graduates, Kelly earned her degree in music, I studied phys.ed. the first time around and education the second.

The seeds for this blog were planted sometime between 2003 and 2004.

Back then, I was doing what was expected of me.
It was killing me.

I was a teacher at a small private high school in Calgary, AB, a city that was rapidly approaching a million residents.

Those of you who are teachers know that a rookie teacher in a small, private high school with limited resources is going to be a jack of all trades. That was certainly the case for me.

I taught 7 completely different and topically unrelated subjects I was in charge of the PE Department I was Athletic Director responsible for the Digital Media program which the administration seemed to think put me in charge of maintaining a network of 30 computers running Windows ME from the beginning of September until the end of October I coached volleyball 3 nights a week after volleyball finished I started coaching basketball 3 nights a week until the end of March I did all this and more for a salary that was about 60% of what I would be earning for half the work in a public school.

My life was worse than a run-on sentence.

Add to that, a wife and two kids at home, involvement in a church where the pastor was a workaholic and didn't know when he was asking too much, meetings, home groups...blah blah blah. I think you get the picture.

It was killing me.

For two years, we kept telling ourselves "Something has got to give! We can't keep living like this." While we told ourselves to slow down, things kept piling up.

Then in May of 2005, something gave.

My wife was accepted into the Japan Exchange and Teaching Programme (www.jetprogramme.org). We sorted our 'stuff' into four categories: throw away, give away, put into storage and take with us. The 'throw away' category was quite likely the largest (aside from the piano). People thought we were nuts.

We sold our house and car and landed in Japan in July of 2005.

The last year and a half has been a sigh, an extended Sabbath.

We have finally learned that moving slowly is ok, that we can live with a whole lot less 'stuff' than we thought before, that living with less stuff is actually a precursor to being more alive.

I gave up a whole lot of stuff to come here, but I gained far more.

I gained time with my wife and kids. I gained perspective. I am relaxed. I have enough. I have time to read and learn. I have time to ride my bike, throw a Frisbee, fly a kite, build a model tank, take pictures, go bowling and just hang out with friends.

The stuff that I gave up was ultimately worthless. What I gained was priceless.

2 comments:

Laurel-Anne said...

I think you forgot to finish this post. What's the project?

Vertigo said...

Stay tuned...