Letting Go. Returning to Canada.

The potential of a Tokyo lock down increases as the numbers of C-19 cases escalate. On my arrival 4 weeks ago Japan was an outlier compared to the rest of the world. Or that was the party line while the 2020 Olympic Games were still at stake.

Now that those are off the table, over the past 5 days numbers of cases have risen drastically daily. If that plays out as expected mathematically and has been observed elsewhere in the world, in two weeks’ time those numbers could be thirty times the daily totals seen now.

Sogetsu School will most likely not open April 15 as hoped. If by some miracle it did, it would only close again during Golden Week, the first week of May which is an annual national holiday. Even if the pandemic should de-escalate (a most unlikely outcome), classes will not open before mid-May, if then.

My private teacher should not risk her health traveling between her home and her studio and frankly, neither should I.  It’s also pointless to sit in my room in Tokyo with nothing to do as well as face possible isolation or quarantine with similar prospects both here and the moment I land in Vancouver. Therefore, this morning with a sorrowful heart I booked a return flight to Victoria on Friday, 3 April.

There was so much I anticipated which did not come to pass.

  • The museums, galleries, concert venues I could not access as they closed.
  • The restaurants I couldn’t indulge.
  • Face to face time with friends because people are isolating.
  • A weekend visit to dear friends in Toyohashi I haven’t seen for five  years won’t be possible.
  • The ikebana classes I couldn’t complete.
  • The friends and teachers at Sogetsu HQ whom I didn’t get to see again.

Very fortunately, the private teacher who took me on gave me an intense boost and pushed me forward in our brief time together. But more than anything, I ache with the deep disappointment of not being able to finish the main thing I came here to do—complete Level 5 of the Sogetsu coursework. As amazing as that aspect of Tokyo’s appeal is, not being able to enjoy the many artistic and cultural events which I so wished to see was secondary.

I followed my heart and invested much time and energy to make it happen. You do that for love. For most of 2019 I lived dreaming of stepping back into my Tokyo life: school and a vibrant city with endless opportunities on offer. And for a moment I have lived (mindfully and intensely) a fraction of that dream, but not at all the way I imagined or wished.

More heartbreaking, I doubt that I will be back. I dipped deep into my savings to return this time because I longed for it so much. Ikebana studied at the source is quite beyond anything that it is elsewhere.

That said, as sorrows go it’s better to bring them on—combine the jet lag with the mandatory quarantine and get the grieving started. It’s more important now to channel my energy to protect the things that matter most—my physical, mental and spiritual health, and perhaps even my life.

Shifting priorities as circumstances change is not the same as defeat—not when something which seemed central to my purpose a month ago has become a kind of burden. It would be misguided to hold on.

A feral cat howls incessantly outside my window, and its voice articulates everything I feel.

However, just as the ethereal petals afloat on the wind find their rest, I too must let go.

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4 Responses to Letting Go. Returning to Canada.

  1. Debbie Krueger says:

    Relinquishing your plans in Japan is most certainly not a defeat. It is prudent at this point. The world we knew last month is suddenly, unexpectedly, not the world we are now living in. Who knows what it will be in another month. We can’t tell what the future holds; we can only do our best with the knowledge we have.
    I am so sorry that it turned out this way for you, but glad that you will be coming home soon.
    Safe journey!

  2. Anne says:

    I’m so sorry for your loss Lynda. Letting go is hard. Anne

    • Lynda Philippsen says:

      Thank you for that validation together with your empathetic, consoling words.

      • Lynda Philippsen says:

        Thank you, Debbie.
        I have packed my large cases which will be sent to the airport ahead of me this morning for pick up on Friday afternoon. A small case, a backpack toiletries and a change of clothes is all that’s left. It’s heartening to receive encouragement, love and prayers of those who care about my well being.

        That done, I will use the Tokyo days remaining to me to absorb as much of the love and beauty of this amazing city as my spirit can hold. The the King James reads: …the shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things that they had heard and seen…and Mary pondered all these things in her heart. (Luke 2:19-20) I will do the same.

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