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Pre-start Blues: Whine, Whine, Whine
(Mon., Sep. 3, 2001)

Note: These log entries cover the days leading to the start of my Aki Meguri. You can read more about the entire experience starting at the Aki Meguri Guide.

I left this entry "as-is," but in fact many of the points here changed drastically. I didn't leave the next day; and I gave up on "pure walking" within the week, and ended up taking trains frequently.

OK, I'm writing this. I should be cleaning my apartment, or packing, or sleeping. But I just have to write for a minute.

I'm nervous. Scared, worried, frazzled. Those who have been around me the past few years will tell you how seldom that happens.

They say the longest journey begins with a single step. Bullshit. (After tomorrow, I can't say words like that anymore; although the Pilgrim's Vows don't specifically prohibit swearing, it seems inconsistent with the other clean-mouthed practices listed.)

Anyway, it's poppycock, balderdash, rubbish to say that the journey begins with the first step. It begins when you start planning. Or when you were born. Gods know everything I've done in my life has led up to this.

At this point, it seems like the walking is going to be the easy part. I still haven't finished the essentials, and what's more, some of the plans I made didn't come to fruition (like selling all my stuff), which once again throws me back on the kindness of those around me, and forces me to acknowledge my interconnectedness, and be humble. No man is an island, especially me.

My friend Hugo once gave me good advice about keeping calm as you prepare for a trip. Once you're on the plane, he said, there's nothing you can do. So just keep dreaming about being on the plane, the cares of the past few days behind you. The problem is, there is no plane. I may never leave the ground, even to get on a train! I'll be on the earth the whole time. I've already adjusted my schedule: I thought I'd try to start from Nihonbashi by 6 a.m., which would mean walking from my house to Nihonbashi by 4:30 or so. Now I hope to start from home by 7:00! This is partly so I can sleep, but partly so I can be in Nihonbashi at a time when I can find someone to sign my trip book (more about that tomorrow). Anyway, tomorrow's goal is somewhere between Kawasaki and Yokohama (old name: Kanagawa)--20-25 kilometers, theoretically 5-6 hours of walking. So why rush the start? I'd rather leave in good (or at least better) condition.

I HATE TO START ON A NEGATIVE NOTE. But I'm still pre-start, remember? The truth is, I just have opening night (or night before) jitters, compounded by the load of stuff left to do. It's easier to focus on that, and gripe about it, than to face the fact that as of tomorrow I may not see anyone now in my life for three months. That I'm carrying the very serious and emotion-laden wishes and prayers of people dear to me. That I don't really have a clue where I'll be sleeping tomorrow night.

If you're reading this in Tokyo, you also know that it's been raining. So my first day is likely to be a wet one. And my first night may be spent indoors, for all my bragging about sleeping outside.

More advice, this from my friend and former priest Father Ron. I once had some medical tests done, and had to wait two weeks for the results. As I fretted, he said, "Well, don't live all two weeks at once." So I shouldn't do three months of worrying all in one night. Small moves, Ellie, small moves.

So really, despite the stuff on my mind, I'm excited. Stoked, jazzed, atwitter. I really can't wait. (And I really can't believe that my spell checker let "atwitter" through. I thought my friend Wayne made that word up.)

The tone of this piece is more like what you'll usually find in The Journal: what's on my mind, etc. But since all I've done today is prepare and fret, this is what you get. Sorry. And thanks. Tomorrow's gonna be GREAT! (But my spellchecker rejected "gonna.")

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Posted September 22, 2019

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