THROUGH THE FIRE: Reflection Through Transition

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By Mari Nakano
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I was waiting at the crosswalk the other day, only to look up to see that the crossing sign was jammed. Both the red hand and the walking man icon were flashing at the same time! Being a designer, I immediately claimed that as the icon which represents the current status of my life. It will be my life logo until some roots start growing from my toes. I’m not stuck, but I feel like I’m simultaneously moving forward and being stalled as I enter this new phase of my life in New York. A temporarily jobless chick with a Masters degree, an ex-Los Angelino who is carless but nonetheless happily reliant on subways and an East Coast newlywed learning the meaning of married life—that’s me right now! Transitioning is just that–a conversion from one state to another, a momentary switchover, a molting, melting, melding change. It hurts so bad, but feels real good.

A good friend once said that your thirties are when you really start living your life. I was too young to believe her at the time, but now that I’m entering my third decade of existence, I have to say that I agree with her. Life has only begun. Finally, I can start putting things like my education, my relationships and my travels in retrospect. I have more insight to add to my conversations and more lived moments to share maturely. I’m getting past finding myself, and can see that the path in front of me looks much more vivid.

I know being almost thirty doesn’t mean I’ve lived much. I’m sure some of you are laughing and thinking, “Who’s this kid writing about all this stuff about growing-up and living life?” Of course, I am still a baby in the eyes of people like my mother, but I hope some of my young words can still resonate.

The most important thing about life is the experience. It’s not about the money, the popularity or the comfort. It’s not about how quickly you excel or how extensive your resume becomes. Living is about taking risks, about pushing boundaries, about expanding yourself as far and wide as your mind and heart and limbs can take you. The lives we’ve been given are meant to be enriched and challenged in ways that allow us to grow and transcend. We are all unique, so we must learn to scaffold and mold ourselves in our own ways in order to transform in due time into what we need to be and what we want to be.

It’s never ever too late to begin something, and it’s also never too late to put closure to things in our lives. It’s always important to consider and reciprocate thankfulness to those who have supported your progress, but it’s also important to know that it’s OK to take ownership of your distinct life.

Of course you must pay your dues. Living isn’t an effortless task. Dedication, perseverance and sweat are part of the struggle to live. We must all grapple with sadness, failure, pride and anger, but no one ever said experience was meant to be purely enjoyed. It is to say, perhaps, that struggle is something to be appreciated and embraced. Out of suffering often blooms new awakenings.

As long as you live and as long as you are a memory to someone else, your existence will always be full of worth. Have confidence in yourself, and if you have a hard time with crediting yourself, do your best not to lean on your ego or turn to an unhealthy habit to compensate. Embrace who you are because no one can love you if you don’t love yourself first.

Live kindly and always practice being graceful and gracious. You are not only a reflection of yourself, but of all those who are connected to you. No matter where you go, and no matter how often you may find yourself far away or alone, be poised and keep your eyes on your passions. Seek inspiration, but don’t push yourself too hard either. Rest and recovery are part of moving forward too. Everything is a balance, and as much as we should be prepared for the worst, we should also be prepared for the best.

It’s an interesting time in my life right now. It’s not limbo and it’s not that I’m not grounded. I’m suspended, rightfully so, in mid-air as I see my recent past while I make long thick strokes towards whatever is ahead of me. As you can tell, it’s made me reflect quite a bit about my life. Perhaps sharing this with all of you is part of my transition. I think saying these thoughts out loud makes me more comfortable about my cur¬rent suspension. I’m waiting at the crosswalk, the one with the jammed street crossing sign.
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The opinions expressed in this column are not necessarily those of The Rafu Shimpo.

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