Good evening again, brothers and sisters.
Tonight, I sit here with a bit of rum, prepared to spill my guts to you about how I came to find myself back at zero. So, here is what it was:
My journey to Japan was a failed effort to transform my life into something meaningful and less painful. Certainly, after spending a decade there, a quarter of my life at that point, I did leave there transformed, but probably not for the better. I left there in 2016 in a state which can be most accurately described as broken.
Please don’t misunderstand me: in most ways, I prefer life in Japan to life in the United States. The food is much better; it is safer; I could drink outside; I could walk home drunk late at night without there ever being an outside danger to my safety; I no longer had to drive or deal with the expenses of owning a car; the prevailing attitudes towards rules, personal integrity, and timeliness are well-suited towards my personality; renting a place in Tokyo was cheaper than it is in the most nondescript slum of Connecticut; the women were better-looking than they are here (even the ugliest woman in Tokyo would be at least a 7 in Connecticut); it was easy and cheap for me to find a place to record; I was surrounded by so many talented artists who could assist in my projects that I began to take it for granted…. I could go on and on, and I am sure that I am forgetting many other important things. Furthermore, I am deeply grateful for many of the experiences I had there, and for quite a few dear friends who I still consider very important to me.
What I mean is not that there was anything wrong with Japan. What I mean is that my endeavor to make something of myself and of my life was an utter failure. The end of my life in Japan was the culmination of a series of losses, and a realization that I needed professional help stateside. In particular, a divorce (and an upheaval in my sense of identity which resulted from this), the loss of my job and the ensuing problem of what would happen to my work visa, increasingly frequent visits to the hospital resulting from alcohol abuse, and a horrific decline in the state of my mental health, all drove me back to the USA with my tail between my legs, absolutely bereft of any sense of self-respect or hope for the future.
Even in my completely defeated state, however, it didn’t take long before I was overcome with a renewed sense of disgust at the provincial and uncivilized culture I had returned to back in my so-called homeland.
(*Why go back to Connecticut of all places, you might rightly ask? Well, because here I had family, who might pity me enough to help me find the resources to attempt to heal myself and reboot my life. Although time had removed some of the memory of why I had left Connecticut in the first place, I was still rather depressed to find myself having to return there. I was going from one of the most vibrant and interesting cities on the planet, to an extremely dull sort of purgatory filled with people who took pride in living the most pedestrian and passionless existence as could be possible.)
Over the course of the intervening years, there have been a lot of people who have asked me why I moved to Japan, as if a simple answer could be given. However, I have learned that the truth is that if one asks such a naive and simple question, then ironically it will be impossible for them to understand the complex combination of events and emotions which led me to throw up my hands at American life in the first place.
It is not now, and was not at that time, bravery; it was complete and utter desperation, and an inability to exist in modern American society. I am unable to function properly, and that is not something that I am at all proud of.
These thoughts arise again now, and I bother writing to you about them now, because that same overwhelming sense of unease that I experienced years ago, has returned. I am now exactly where I started, except that now I am much older, and even more pessimistic than before.
Now, I realize fully what I suspect I knew deep down inside all along: there is no corner of the Earth in which I can escape from myself.