There’s so much I want to say, but numerous calls back to loved ones in the in the UK have brought the clock on to past 3am, and I need my sleep, so I shall try and be brief. To start with though, I have a few messages:

Firstly, my sincere and loving thanks to all of you who have sent congratulatory messages to myself and *Twinkle*. We really appreciate it.

We are very happy. It’s just perfect. I love her very much, she loves me very much. Over the past two years we have enjoyed venturing into new worlds of self-discovery together, and I look forward to many many years of such adventures. Ne.

My love also to my brother, whose birthday it is today (at least today in Japan!). It’s a special landmark birthday, and I am sorry I can’t be there with you. have fun in the bath tomorrow, and in the woods next week. Thank you so much for being there. I feel so so lucky to have you as a big brother; you’re the best big brother a little brother could ever have. I am particularly grateful for the sense of humour you gave me – you have such a positive impact upon every single day of my life.

And to my two sisters with whom I talked this evening. What wonderful people they are. What incredible things they have done, and what an inspiration to me they are. Thank you both.

My love and thoughts to Charlie, and Colin, both experiencing enourmous challenges at present. Danny too.

My love and oodles of complete happiness to Jo and Joe, marrying today in Hereford. What a beautiful family. My apologies for not being there with you.

Tom, Miyu, Emmie and Russ – tee hee, I’m so excited! Babies only a few weeks away!

Stu – Happy Birthday today – I’m so happy to have found the Stu in you I didn’t appreciate before.

Last, but by no means least my love and pain-relieving thoughts to Jo in Bristol, having contractions as I type. You are going to be the most amazing mum – and Jim, it was so nice to talk to you tonight, really, I really enjoyed that, and am so happy that you are Jo are together.

This is perhaps one of the happiest times of my life so far. I am deeply grateful, and appreciate every day. Things are so good. I have the relationship that I always dreamed of. I have many loving friends who are experiencing love, birth, celebration, and freedom.

I have been given a precious wake up call: it all began with a book about basic financial planning, and has led me on the most exciting adventure through a world of books and CDs. They have opened my eyes to so many possibilities – possibilities that were always there but, in my mind, out of reach.

It’s only the beginning of this tremendously exciting journey though. Just recently, my meandering path through the world of books designed to help one be happy have led me to look, for the first time, at my spiritual self.

This is one area of my being that I have always felt lacking in. I am inclined to think that it was my Catholic upbringing that put me off organised religion – this then became a dislike of delving into my spiritual self – any inclusion of God in a direct reference to myself made me feel uncomfortable. I don’t feel that when others speak of their thoughts about God: I respect that everyone has their own beliefs, and I feel fine with that. I feel OK being surrounded by symbols of Christianity (for example, I had a very emotional morning in the chapel at Rikkyo university a few weeks back, on one of those rare occasions when I do seek comfort in a church).

These past couple of months however, I have been listening to hours and hours of recordings by a very spiritual person who does not represent any particular religion. He often refers to God (“or whatever you want to call the energy”), and speaks of everything happening for a reason – something I have strongly believed myself for a long time now. I do not believe in coincidence, or “blind luck”. Take tonight for example. I was in Shinjuku, one of the busiest railway stations in the world. Arriving on the platform I was faced with two trains, both with their doors due to shut within 10 seconds (the ‘shutting door’ music was playing), about to leave. One of them was my train, but unlike most times when I take this train from this platform, I couldn’t figure out which was going which way.

I bumbled, and by the time I saw the sign telling me which one was mine, the doors were shutting.

Rather than swear at having missed my train, despite it having been right there in front of me, I smiled. “There’ll be a reason for it”.

20 seconds later, *Twinkle* appeared next to me. I had no idea she was even in Shinjuku.

These things happen all the time, to us all. I don’t feel there is anything accidental about this.

What I’m hearing now is really making sense to me. It feels really right. We’ve all heard that “God is within us all”, a phrase which has always made me feel, “hmm, well maybe that’s the case for you in your organised religion, but I’ll just stick with my vague idea that there’s something out there thanks very much”. Say that to me now, and I still feel the same!

But how about if you phrase it a different way? How about if you think of a universal energy source from which we all come, and to which we all return. This energy is within us from conception to death, at which point it rejoins the pool. This fits in with Lovelock’s Gaia theory which I subscribe to, and can be reworded to fit into any of the major religious texts. Perhaps there could be some truth to it? There doesn’t have to be any central God figure to worship (I have always been uncomfortable with the idea of a centralised pool of power located in a single God Figure, who is separate from onself, somewhere ‘up there’, a God who makes decisions and the acts upon them).

I can’t look on what I’ve just written with objective eyes (not at 4.09am), thus I don’t know if I’m giving the impression that I’m being swept up by some religious guru who believes they are the mouthpiece of God. If that’s the impression I give, my apologies, as that is not the case at all. As a great sceptic, I’m finding enourmous delight in the fact that this is something that is actually sounding pretty, er, sound.

I mean, the consequences of this are quite incredible. It opens up a whole new world, a whole wealth of spiritual resources which until now have been kept hidden by my unwillingness to acknowledge them.

It’s tremendously exciting to have found a path that is hinting at leading towards a spiritual awakening. It’s been 29 years in the coming, and is very welcome. I look forward to the long journey ahead.

Perhaps it’s ironic (perhaps it isn’t) that I will remember this “Year Abroad” not for the things I’ve learnt at uni (which has felt like more of a hobby to be enjoyed in my spare time!), but rather for the things I’ve learnt about myself through reading and listening to English language texts!

watch this space.

Much love to you all