There’s bean some progress

Elephant flies to the moon

I’ve been enjoying drawing lately. It started out when I tried to create some original art to illustrate episodes of Japan Podshow. As the series has progressed so I’ve spent a little more time on the pictures. It was inevitable in a way that I would find myself drawing elephants again – something I’ve done for many years when doodling.

I’m now in the process of creating a whole series of pictures which may or may not then have little messages added in Japanese and English, before being printed as postcards. Most of the drawing takes place on the Hibiya Subway line – my creative space. This means it doesn’t eat into the time I need for podcasting, allowing me to do it without stress.

Also, later today I’l be going out with Pepe and my friend / Japanese teacher / ideas guru @naminamy. We’ll be taking photos with Pepe for a book that I’m going to publish. Whether this means self-publishing or pro-publishing, at this stage I don’t know.

I’m also working on a more ‘professional’ podcast aimed at aspiring entrepreneurs / artists etc in Japan. The website’s nearly complete, and I hope to launch in the next few days. Initially, it’ll just feature the interviews I record for Japan Podshow (without all the bumph). It’ll be interesting to see where it heads.

One thing I’m enjoying is seeing that a lot of what I read in literature on achieving dreams is ‘correct’. Life has a truly uncanny way of working out for the best. It’s just a case of making a decision, acting on that decision, and having faith that those actions will lead to the goal (which of course may be somewhat different from that initially outlined). Whilst all these elements are vital, if I was to write a ‘keys to success’ book it would only contain two words:

“Just act”.

Books such as The Secret are all very well and good, and I agree that it’s important to align thinking with desired outcome, but at the end of the day, the single biggest factor that will determine if you reach a goal is whether you act on your ideas.

(Wow Joseph. What groundbreaking stuff!!!)

I have to laugh at myself for having put up all these imaginary barriers that ‘prevented’ me from doing what I wanted to do, whether it was a lack of time / lack of contacts / lack of money. It’s nothing that can’t be changed through action.

Life’s generally pretty cool at the moment. I’ve applied for a renewal of my spouse visa, which should be a three-year visa this time. I’m eating banana-and weetabix or banana-and-muesli milkshakes most mornings – it’s incredible how much easier 5 bananas slip down when drunk as opposed to being eaten. We’ve entered two teams for the next ekiden (relay race) in November, and Tom and I have submitted our entries for the Tokyo Marathon – being oversubscribed we get put into a lottery for places (result October).

Work is going OK. Now I know the basics of most things I’m not having such a hard time. I’m extremely busy most days, which is a good thing (no overtime so I just do what I do).

I grew a magic bean this week. It really was magic. This is what happened in 4 days.
Bean Progress

With so much to do for the podcast I don’t have a social life as such, but that’s OK for now. I do of course meet people in the process of gathering material, and am always making new contacts.

Anyway, I’m feeling quite hungry now. Time for breakkie, then editing – we recorded episode 9 at the top of the Tokyo Metropolitan Government building this week. It was a lot of fun but there’s a fair bit of material to wade through!


Hope at the Hilton

Last night I was very fortunate to be able to attend the 10th annual charity gala event in aid of Hope Japan, a non-governmental aid agency that works to provide safe drinking water to families in third world countries. It was held at the Hilton Hotel in Shinjuku – part of Hope at the Hilton Week.

I’d been invited along by John Janzen of FatBlueMan, whom I first met over Skype a couple of weeks back when doing an interview with him for episode one of Japan Podshow. John has been a supporter of the organisation for some time, and recently has written two songs for the charity, used in their fundraising campaigns (one of which we played on the podshow).

As well as providing live music at the event (alongside the excellent Secret Ocean), John had been asked to gather together a team of YouTubers who might be interested in making a trip to Cambodia later this year.

Every year, the charity takes a few top execs out to its projects in South East Asia or Africa to impress upon them just how important their work is, and how much of a difference the support of big business can make. Listening to two of the people who went out last year speak about their experience meeting a family whom we’d just seen in a video was quite moving …and it got me thinking.

This year Hope is going to be doing something different. Instead of sending some execs out there, they’d like to send a team of YouTubers – people with a different perspective on things and the know-how to use the incredible media tools that are now accessible to anyone as leverage to spread the word about their work.

The YouTubers around the table were Hikosaemon, ToLokyo, Claytonian, TokyoStormTrooper and TkyoSam.

Whilst I don’t see myself as a ‘YouTuber’, I am someone who is fascinated and excited by the potential of these tools that we have at our fingertips. I’m particularly interested in audio and video – it’s only now I have a really decent computer that video is actually a possibility (or at least it would be if I had a camera!)

Going back to the charity aspect: this is also something that interests me. And I know that this is one that I have to look into as John introduced Hope to me at exactly the moment that I was thinking deeply about the value and potential of creating an online community (which is my medium-term goal) – synchronicity.

So whilst I don’t yet know if I’ll be heading to Cambodia later this year or not, last night’s event did serve as a reminder that I do need to work charity into the reason for my doing all this.

Whilst geekery is fun, sometimes I do wonder what the point to it all is. If, ultimately, it doesn’t contribute to the overall good of society, then it could be entirely pointless. Just a waste of precious time. But put a valuable cause at the end of the road and suddenly there’s a burning reason to continue to push original material out there, to grow a community, to create a movement of sorts.

I tend to do a lot of my thinking and concluding when either talking with others, or writing, and as I sit here in the bookstore cafe just around the corner from Shibuya station, I can feel the tension rise in me (that’s Japanese-style tension, which unlike the non-Japanese tension is a very good thing). This idea is clearly in accordance with my core values, with what ultimately drives me to act – that is, making a difference.

Watch this space.

I’d like to say a big thank you to John for inviting me along, and I look forward to working together.

I’d just like to finish by briefly writing about a conversation I had with Danny Choo last night.

Danny Choo is most well known for his love of figurines, dancing around Tokyo in a stormtrooper outfit and his love of Apple Macs (he recently installed Mac OSX on a Dell Mini, something I can see myself doing in the future.. He has an which sees over 2 million unique visitors every month, and is usually the centre of attention at events such as Tokyo CGM.

But it wasn’t for any of those things that I first came to hear about Danny. It was rather due to his attitude towards life, as documented in a small corner of his website (which I can’t find at the moment, but I did find his story of why / how he learnt Japanese). I recall reading (following a random google search) what he’d written about self-actualisation, and agreeing wholeheartedly with him. At the time that served as another little prod to get me off my arse-of-fear and into action.

Meeting Danny last night confirmed something else about him that I previously guessed to be the case – he’s a thoroughly nice guy. He knows how to listen, and has a great skill of reading people. He is generous with advice on things that he is well versed in, and humble in learning from others in areas that he is not so familiar with. With all this in mind, it’s only natural that he should be as successful as he is.

We’re fortunate to have him here in Tokyo.

Anyway, I have a tonne of editing to do on episode two of the Podcast, and for some mad reason I’m actually going to start another mini-podcast this week too.

Exciting times. I hope I can sleep tonight.

Picking it up again

Little Pink Hat

Another of my favourites from Tokyo – the little pink-hat girl rides high above the crowds (Shibuya’s Hachiko crossing).

Posts / pages, pages / posts… Ah, the complexities of the English language. Apologies to those of you who received an ‘About the Tame’ post via my feed, my mistake when attempting to transfer some of the static content on TameGoesWild to this WP database.

The last few days have been pretty tricky, with the work-project-home balance being tipped right up causing the kind of grief that can be crippling to general wellbeingness. Still, got things more-or-less back on track now.

It’s reminded me though of one thing I’ve come to accept as OK this past year – the stops and starts that naturally accompany efforts to create new habitual actions (something that’s pretty relevant 6 weeks into a new year). Such actions might be exercise, eating healthily, writing, learning a language or good posture. In the past, I might maintain a new good habit for a week or two, then one morning find myself ‘too busy’ or ‘too stressed’ to make time for it that day.

I’d then use that slip-up as an excuse to not to do it the next day either, and then stop altogether. “Oh, well, I failed at that. I’ll do it again one day”, perceiving the effort to restart the habit so enormous that it would require weeks of mental preparation.

Which of course it doesn’t. It just requires an instantaneous decision followed by action.

Knowing this has saved me a fair bit of grief. It means I’ve been able to give up being down on myself for ‘failing’, and allowed me to restart whatever positive habitual habit is without this sense that it’s a huge struggle in which I will have ‘succeed’ or ‘fail’.

We visited my in-laws last night. With a trip to go and see granny in Western Tokyo on the cards for today, the whole family had gathered. It was a really fun evening! Great food, a lot of laughter, oh, and they also happen to speak Japanese, thus resulting in me revelling in the language bath.

I actually have very few chances to use my Japanese, thus, when the opportunity arises there’s no shutting me up. I’m actually planning to start doing some kind of voluntary work that will enable me to use my Japanese – I’m thinking one evening a week, local neighbourhood organisation, befriending oldies etc. Either that, or find some hypnosis technique to help *Twinkle* forget her English when at home.

Anyway, best get on.


Coldplay Live

coldplay, Live at Saitama Super Stadium, Feb 2009
It was around 8.55am when I got an email from my friend and teacher Nami. Would I like to go and see Coldplay perform live at Saitama Super Stadium tonight? She’d got a couple of tickets for 3500 yen each – almost a third of the normal price.

With telephone conversation calls going on until 7pm, there was no way I was going to get there for the (7pm) start, but fortunately they had a support act, and then there was a short delay, so in the end they only appeared on stage after I’d arrived.

Good of them to wait.

It was bloomin amazing.

Those who know the ins and outs of my Japan story may recall that Coldplay have in a way been the soundtrack to the last 7 years of my life, releasing a new album to mark the start of each new era. Thus, it was a pretty emotional experience for me right from the start.

But more than past lifetimes, it was the band’s achievements that I was moved by. I mean, look at this amazing sight. Thousands of fans loving what they were doing. The four of them loving what they were doing.

Ha. That’s pretty damn groovy I thought.

And I thought again of that quote.

Don’t die with your music still in you.