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Looking Inward, Moving Forward

The last few weeks have been chock full of me revisiting “old baggage”, unresolved issues that I either thought I’d worked through but didn’t or had put aside for another day. The range of items on this To Do list has turned out to be amusingly broad. It’s worth sharing a few, as a look inward is almost always good for more than a few chuckles and grimaces.

Take, for example, a longstanding desire to replace a mouthful of old, silver-amalgam fillings with new ceramic jobs. Silver-amalgam is nasty, nasty stuff, and I’ve been reluctantly looking in my mouth for a long while now in the knowledge that at some point, this old junk needs to be removed and safer stuff put in its place. I’ve never been a fan of dental work. Moreover, I’ve helped clients deal with the toxic side effects of such procedures and am well aware of the unpleasantness that can be associated with it. So, I had to laugh when, after years of procrastination, a tooth I’d filled with silver-amalgam decided on its own that it wanted ceramic instead. It broke, and at 5 p.m. yesterday, I was in The Chair having the old filling removed and a temporary one put into place in preparation for the new ceramic filling.

On the emotional front, I’ve had a lot of old relationships popping up in my mind. Arguments, emotional hurts and various discomforts have all been revisited over my early-morning walks. It didn’t take me long to come to grips with any of them, thankfully. It seems that most of what is going on is a matter of closure. You see, a lot of us put stuff aside without having completely dealt with it. With relationships that we’ve ended, we may not have fully resolved the issues surrounding their demise. Before we can really move on to the next stage of our growth as a person, we need to tie up the loose ends.

In my case, tying up these loose ends is all about commitment. I discovered a really interesting thing about myself, although it took 50 years and a lot of relationships to figure it out. And, as embarrassingly cliche as it might sound, here it is: Happiness Comes From Within. Ta-da! There you have it, folks. What this has to do with commitment is genuinely significant.

For most of my life, I looked to my external circumstances as a means of justifying my emotional state. When things weren’t going well for me emotionally, I looked elsewhere for fulfillment. This meant that if a relationship wasn’t happening for me, I found a new relationship. Even with each relationship lasting many years, even decades, I was still keenly — and painfully — aware that I was fully engaged in finding happiness via external gratification.

The path of external gratification took me far from my family, and it took a good 18 months for me to find my way back. The journey, though hard, was necessary. In it, I discovered the ultimate truth that unless you can find happiness within yourself, you’ll never find happiness with others. And once you find happiness within yourself, you finally find that it really is possible to unconditionally love others. Forgiveness comes, defensiveness disappears and you share yourself, emotionally naked and vulnerable, with those you love.

Looking back at my old relationships has been interesting in that each relationship presented specific lessons that I was learning at the time. Relationships are a mirror of who you are and how you relate to those around you. Looking back and being able to ultimately let go of these relationships is a big deal. Letting go of the old relationships is important in being able to truly commit to the current/new ones.

All of the physical and emotional baggage being dealt with now is a reflection of my decision to leave Japan. I want to leave for several reasons, chief among them being the unstable nuclear situation that remains at the Fukushima power plant and the ultimate likelihood of a so-called “China syndrome” happening there. At least 2 metres of the concrete outer containment has been eaten away by the escaping melted-down fuel. Once that last 0.6 metres of containment has been breached, a bad situation simply gets worse. And shall remain so for decades to come.

With my decision to leave comes the closing of a chapter of my life that has spanned two decades, and my desire to close this chapter in the right way is pushing me to look inward as I prepare to move forward. And while I might not like the dental work, I know it’s all a part of the bigger picture.

Life is good.

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