The "way" I first tried was Kendo. Somewhat feeble-minded and kind of a lame duck, I was thrown in a Kendo circle in my neighborhood when I was eight. For four years on I kept clinging to it in tears, but I have no idea what I attained from it in the end. I don't remember when I beat anyone. It was a shameful experience.
At eleven, I was thrown into an English class in the neighborhood, where mainly Australian teachers drilled us with phrases like "I'm thirsty" and the like every week, and where I found many kinds of classmates and teachers, so I parted with the guys that would point toy guns at the podunk citizens to walk the path I wanted to live.
At college in another podunk, still a feeble type, I started Aikido. I started it and learned that I was not one for it, and that I have an allergy to what I'm not cut out for. Wrestler-type senior students recognized that, saying "Man, nobody's going to help you with that attitude;" at first I didn't know why they said that to me, but even when I began to realise, I ended up quitting before I gained a black belt. But it was not so bad, because I got to know a guy who left to travel the Asian Continent on a motorcycle and another from my department that traveled in India, both of whom helped me decide my destination.
Meanwhile, still, I was way feeble. I couldn't get along with my friends, so, when the college bought a computer that's set online for the students' room, I occupied it alone until morning to go home when students came to school. With slight alcoholism in addition, I got much feeber -- eventually, I got sick by finishing one hundred pages of graduation thesis and now found no purpose in life, got a job purposelessly, in the middle of feebleness unable to answer to those who asked me "but what are you?" rather than to myself asking "what am I?"
As I was planning before, I went to India. I screwed up. To compensate for the fiasco, I went to Antaiji, where no one asked me what I was. All alone in the snow, the life was just refreshing. At this point my way was the Buddha's way, where I think I was resting my bones. After leaving Antaiji, I got mired in debt subsequently, and was sent to an alcohol addiction hospital last winter, and I'm still alive now.
As for the addiction hospital, which takes in patients to straighten them out of alcoholism, the life there was like that of a Zen temple: they get up early, rough meal, morning meeting, alcoholism class held in the morning and afternoon, and they go to bed early. "If I can't set myself straight here, I'm like this the whole rest of my life," I said to myself and clung to it for a hundred days, and got out -- only to have unhappy memories to remember with no change in me. Not at all sure if I'm really "feeble" or just "stubborn," or, perchance, I've grown up dramatically, though, I have to get over winter this year, too. On a long way round, do not resign.
Takuma Funami, November 7