Hiking Journal Musings Outdoors

Street Lights

I’ve been avoiding writing in the blog these last few days because I’ve been in a funk and I can’t seem to find anything worthwhile to write about without sounding like I’m whining or taking the world for granted.

I’ve been avoiding writing in the blog these last few days because I’ve been in a funk and I can’t seem to find anything worthwhile to write about without sounding like I’m whining or taking the world for granted. It’s been a strange and awkward kind of funk that I just can’t seem to shake. Bad faith from my design work partners (now telling me today that they don’t know when they will be able to pay me… alarm bells going off), a string of overly critical comments recently from my boss at my evening job about my teaching methods, the start of the planning stage for going about moving out separately from my wife (the talking is calm, but I can’t help always feeling this screen of unreality veiling our tenderness; like watching a heartbreaking movie from within a shower. You want to cry, but the tears keep getting washed away by the water), weekends intended for mountain walking thwarted by tiny events like a low blood sugar attack that prevents me from catching the earliest train that would allow me enough time to get out to the mountain or being so tired from all the recent work that I can’t find it in me to roll out of bed or a call from the landlord asking me to be around on the day I was to depart to wait for the plumber, and so forth and so on, ad addendum.

So it was with some hunchbacked relief that I boarded the train this evening after work, knowing that from tomorrow I will have seven days of vacation. There will be mountains and mountains and yet more mountains on my brain, hopefully, to feed the hunger for heights that has been building up for the past few months. I’ve sewn together two tents and a tarp and will have my chance to finally try them out. Don’t know if they will work, but at least I will know it was my fingers that caused the failure of my equipment; there is something reassuring in the knowledge that even a failure of mine will at least be my failure and no one can take that away from me.

The evening sits upon the deserted residential streets (all lined with walls around every house and apartment building… one ends up walking alleys and lanes here in Tokyo, rather than the passage between furry green carpets of the States) like a fat cat just finished with dining. A cool breeze wafts through the blurry heat, stirring my view of the soundless clouds scudding by overhead. And real cats tiptoe under the street lights, their shadows racing to catch up then passing them by. Cicadas sing electric duets in the limelight, some whirr away from the safety of their perches in the trees and break themselves against the lamp glass, their wings shredding like paper. These creatures of the earth, messengers of the subconscious, lost among our alien concrete.

I stroll home, but my legs lost their swing until I come to a standstill under one street light, looking up ahead and back over my shoulder. I look up and dark birds whistle over the roof tops, heading… home? Or standing still, while the earth yaws beneath them? I can almost hear the timbers creak. Uncertain, my footsteps break from reverie and find the door as I fumble for the keys. And that is the crux of the problem, isn’t it? Just these keys. The lock snicks open and I step away, my back turned toward the expanses, to be cupped in windless inertia. A home away from home.

4 replies on “Street Lights”

if only we could toss away our keys and finally live within the walls of our true home … here’s hoping this holiday week gives you plenty of moments to absorb the healing force of nature … you are in my thoughts


I’m experiencing total doldrum apathy and sadness, bordering on depression–don’t want to do anything, and have so little to do at work these days that when they give me something, I feel put-upon. Lost all desire–as if I see that everything is an illusion, so what’s the point of anything. Yet I have not been meditating, and know that there is a key there, and if I can only get back to it, maybe what I am missing will unfold. And this comes on the heels of a very rich, lively period where I felt that I was being honest in all my affairs. I missed your writing, and connecting to you.


Would that all ‘funks’ produce such lyrical posts! I tend to find those pieces written during blue periods to be the most revealing and reassuring: none of us are immune to those bleak expanses, and it’s healing, I think, to learn about the untouchable similarties of our interior landscapes.

I’m glad you’ll be going home.


You put it so well: home away from home. Those few words contain so much. I’ve sometimes felt like a lodger in my own home; felt that one day I’ll find real Home someplace else.

I hope you find peace and renewal in the mountains; I will be seeking them there too.


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