Soul Excursions

IMG_3699Recently, I’ve begun a walk/run routine. It’s part of one of my goals of finishing a marathon. Last year, I tried and failed miserably; I only made it 13k and that was in immense pain. I failed because of a combination of factors, an old kneed injury being the most deciding factor. But the reasons aren’t important. The fact is, I failed.

Failure is great. My marathon epic fail was one of the best things that has ever happened to me. It was a moment that forced me to face the fact that I’m not as young as I used to be. Not that I’m old, mind you, but I’m certainly older and I’ve noticed that things are different. It’s the small things that you notice first, such as aches and pains that creep from nowhere and having to work just a little harder to stay in shape. It has made me approach life more methodically.

IMG_3722Enough growing pains.

Walking has given me more freedom than anything else before. My legs carry me to some interesting places that I would never have visited.

Today, my feet carried me off the regular path to a place of beauty and mystery. A paved road wove around small gardens towards an unknown peak. The heat of the day beat down but eased as I reached a sheer cliff fortified with the canonical concrete retaining wall that is so familiar in Japan. There must have been a landslide from the flooding last year. A copse of bamboo shielded the place from everything, making the road and city noises feel miles away. Bamboo shoots were beginning their life so energetic with moist softness.

IMG_3657A steep concrete path invited me to go further. So I did. Shade from the bamboo forest provided much needed relief from the pressing sun. As the incline leveled, a statue waited patiently. As I looked up at it, sun rays haloed my vision. There was a gazebo so I decided to get more respite from the sun and do a little stretching. Counting off a forward stretch, I couldn’t help but notice a vigorous patch of white clover. As I looked closer, four leaves on one stem popped out. I’ve never seen a four-leaf clover in my entire life! I thought it was a joke. But there it was. I plucked it for luck (I felt bad but it was fortunate because when I went back the grass had been cut).

IMG_3688I was about to leave but I noticed that there was more to be seen. Round, manicured bushes standing about shoulder height stretched beyond the statue for about fifty meters and a small path among the bushes led to a building on the far side. I walked along the path to a building open on one side. Inside and all around were Buddha statues, some with scarves on. It was a magnificent sight!

Walking may not be a failure, but each time I go out I discover something new, whether it is about myself or my surroundings. As I age and experience life, I realize how little I know. I mean, it was thirty-four years before I saw a real four-leaf clover. There is so much more to know. A failure started me walking. How have your failures motivated you?

So I will live today in wonder and engagement, striving for a tomorrow that will see my feet and spirit carry me even further to discover something new.


About Matthew J. Durocher

Matthew Durocher is a graduate of Michigan Tech University. He acquired his BA in English along with a minor in Music Composition and a certificate in Writing in Spring 2012. His style is one of passion and musicality. One foot is firmly rooted in tradition while the other slides dangerously close to the clouds.
This entry was posted in Culture Shock, Japan, Reflection and tagged , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink.

4 Responses to Soul Excursions

  1. alakotila says:

    Every time I fail or feel disappointed in art, once the heavy feelings pass, I find that I try with renewed effort and my work improves. There’s nothing wrong with failing!

  2. I am 42 and have yet to see a real life four-leaf clover 😀 Oh the failures that have pushed me to places I would never have otherwise gone. How very wonderful that it only took you 34 years to discover this truth that sometimes takes people a whole lifetime to grasp. I see great things ahead for you. Thank you so much for these thoughts Matthew. Sharon

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