How To Unpack Emotional Baggage

When I first moved to Tokyo, I found myself getting lost quite often. I once tried to locate a Kinko’s store in the heart of the city, but instead spent an hour wondering aimlessly through a maze of unmarked city blocks. Before I left my home, I made sure I wrote down the trio of numbers pinpointing the location of that particular business (5-22-1 Shinjuku). When I got off the train, I tried to use the area maps located near the station, but unlucky for me, they were all in Kanji. After spending five minutes standing mystified in front of the map, I decided to do what any red-blooded American guy would do: "wing it". After about half an hour and as I was walking by the exact spot I'd been just 10 minutes ago, I was thoroughly confused and cursing under my breath.

I was feeling a bit annoyed with myself, but I quelled my anxiety by taking a moment to embrace the scene around me. I thought to myself, “I’m in Japan. For the first time in my life, I’m living in another country.” As I soaked it all in, I glanced at the faces of the people hurriedly walking by me. There was such an embedded calmness in their eyes and an innate serenity in their manner. It was contagious.

My swift change of emotional focus, from frustration to sublime acceptance, exposed past frustrations of mine. Frustrations involving my mother. This came in the form of her boisterous voice which my mind played back to me like I was listening to a CD. It was a distinct, very clear, disheartening, belligerent, frightening, and all too familiar voice. My mother was very hot-tempered and during times of confusion or disbelief would belt out a series of expletives to anyone within earshot.

For a split second, it felt as if she was eerily right behind me. And what disgusted me even more was just moments before, I was unconsciously cursing under breath in the same way. My words and inflections definitely had her signature.

Next, I had an epiphany. I couldn’t imagine that behavior existing in Japan. Furthermore, I couldn’t imagine that attitude helping me on my journey to enlightenment. So, I simply expelled that negative energy into the vastness of the universe.

My ultimate goal is clarity of mind through distillation of temperament. I embrace moments when my mind verbally, visually, or kinesthetically rewinds back to some discrete defining moment in my past. I view reliving these moments as not just a release of anxiety, but as a deeper form of healing that strengthens my emotional well-being.

By clearing my mind of these past disaffections, I’m better able to moderate my train of thought. I’m able to conserve my mental energies and apply them to less primal and more constructive ideas.

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