Years ago, a comment on my blog said something about how my writing had become more introspective since moving back to Tokyo. My mental response had been – I still remember it now – that when you’re in a shitty situation, you realize the things that matter most to you.
I shouldn’t blame Tokyo, per se, for my lack of happiness. It’s more the combination of an inclination towards sometimes severe depression and the social ostracization of being different. The bike helped tremendously, until I got chewed out too many times at a bike shop for “being stupid.” I remember standing in the middle of a Tokyo street, crying so hard I could barely breathe, sending smoke signals in the form of desperate emails to two best friends. The bullying, the harshness of being different, of being too independent or foreign, the hints that maybe I should change who I am…it all sucked. A lot.
The bike kept me sane for a while, but this past winter, I hit a new kind of low. The kind that keeps you indoors and off the bike and barely above “slightly functional.” Save for those two short visits from Adam, I couldn’t remember how to smile.
I never believed that clinical depression was something to be proud of, because though the moments are sometimes too rare, I like to be happy. That’s the other side of it; when you can get your head above water for a bit, depression helps you realize what really makes you happy. It’s makes you a little braver, too, to tell the people you care about that you love them and that they make you happy. It encourages putting a song on repeat all day – no matter how pop-y – and to paint with food, if that’s what it takes to keep the monsters at bay. If dancing around my apartment to British boy bands, classic punk rock, and American indie rock between painting portraits of pro cyclists gets me out of bed, then that’s exactly what I’m going to do. Bikes still feed my soul, but these past few months, I remembered something else. When too many people are shitty to me and I start to break a little bit inside, I can always use music to patch it up until I’m good to go.
I believe there’s very little a good bike ride and a bass line can’t fix. When I need a second wind, good coffee and punk rock have always delivered. So let’s start there.
Subjects: Johnny Rotten of the Sex Pistols, Joe Strummer of The Clash, and Tim Armstrong of Rancid
Materials used: coffee grounds