Kincaid: Shirtless On The Streets Of Tokyo Part 1: Murray Movie

素敵烏 Wonderful ravens,

柳上に立 Standing upon the willow,

歓喜涙 O’ tears of delight!

- A Haiku Written While Shirtless On The Streets Of Tokyo

Shirtless On The Streets Of Tokyo

Part 1: Murray Movie

“What are you reading?” My wife asked me, as I stared at my phone with what must have been a noteworthy interest for her to ask that question.

“I got a message from a Japanese wrestler, Shigehiro Irie, asking if I would be interested in going to Japan.” I replied.

“That would be cool.” She said.

“Yeah, but you know me: I never like to get my hopes up about stuff like this.” I said as a reaffirmation of the deeply instilled belief taught to me by my wrestling forefathers and confirmed through years of well-masked disappointment.

“I think it will work out.” She said with a positive nod.

“It always does. Even when we think it doesn’t.” I said as reaffirmation in a deeply held belief that I have cultivated through deep reflection.

*Cinematic Jump Cut*

“What. Are. You. Reading?” Asked my Japanese friend in his slow-to-perfectly-pronounce English, as he leaned over my shoulder on the Dramatic Dream Team tour bus, trying to get a look at the cover, as we waited for the rest of the crew to get boarded before heading out from Tokyo on a five hour -before stops- drive to Mie.

I turned the cover so he could get a better look at it, but wasn’t sure if he could read English as well as he spoke it.

Before I could verbally answer he said, “Ah! Relativity! Einstein! I. Learned. A. Little. In. School. But. It… Was. Too...Tough. To. Understand. Fully. For. Me.”

I smiled and said, “For me, too. That’s why I am reading a book on it called ‘How To Teach Relativity To Your Dog’. Even it’s a little confusing.”

“It. Has. To. Do. With. Time. And. Light. As. I. Remember.” He said.

“Hai.” I said. Which reminded me of an old joke my cousin Adam was fond of, in our youth: I know Karate ...*pause for reverence*...and several other Japanese words. Which despite the fact that I knew about a month in advance that I would be spending a month in Japan was still true of me.

I had learned how to be slightly polite in the Japanese language and that’s about it. How to say yes - hai - was one of the few words that I was confident in my pronunciation of.

“No. Well…yeah, that too, but nah, it’s the whole reincarnation thing.”

I wanted to add, “I am interested in how Time is inseparable from Space and how the implications of a unified Spacetime impact the Determinism vs Free Will debate.”

I wanted to tell him, “I love the idea of a Deterministic Universe because I believe it gives me the freedom to forgive fully and that unburdens my heart, but, at the same time, I believe that accepting a determined-unfolding of life, the Universe, and everything is what gives you an undiluted-by-ignorance shot at being an active player in the unfolding - which almost paradoxically gives you the realest facsimile of free will.

I wanted to add, “I’m also interested in the idea that at the speed of light time stops; so for a light particle the moment it leaves the Sun, the eight minutes it takes for it to travel the 149.6 million km (of course I would use km for his benefit) to Earth, the moment it reflects off of the surface of the face of your true love, the moment it enters your eyes, and becomes a memory that lasts your lifetime, it would all be...The. Same. Moment.”

I wanted to awkwardly mumble after that mindblower, “And I’m not sure why but there’s something about that that makes me...I don’t know...happy.”

But that seemed like a heavy bit of information to someone who had to take the time to translate it in their head. So, instead, I just said, “Hai.” and left it at that.

My Japanese friend gave me a big-brotherly smile and a head nod, then returned to his bus seat in the row behind me.

The lights in the bus went off so the other passengers could sleep while I snuck near-blindingly sunny peaks out the window of the near-blindingly sublime Japanese countryside, with its lush Christmas-tree-green mountains adorned in ornamental spring flowers of, mostly, pink and yellow and purple looking back at me with what seemed like yet another big-brotherly smile.

In the dark, I heard a familiar voice say, “When. We. Have. Our. Vacation. From. The Tour. I. Want. To. Take. You. Someplace. Cool.”

***

“What are you reading, now?” Asked my stoner buddy as I walked through the thin, soul-torturing-ly crowded, chaotic, and loud hallways of Oak Hill High School in route to class with two books: a bigass textbook and a smaller book to sneak-read inside the textbook - a trick I had learned in the second grade, when Goosebumps books were very popular.

“A godd*** book.” I said, quoting a pretty good god*** book I had recently read: The Catcher and the Rye by J.D. Salinger.

“Ha. Ha. B***h.” My friend replied. “Forreal. What the f*** are you reading, now?”

“A book about religions.” I said with a sigh.

“Starting to lose your faith in Atheism?” He asked.

“Nah, strengthening it. For the most part. The only one that sounds reasonably interesting to me is Buddhism. Hell I’d probably be a Buddhist if it wasn’t for one major hang up I have.”

“Don’t want to become a vegetarian?” He asked.

“No...I mean...yeah, but nah, it’s the whole reincarnating soul thing.”

***

I looked at my friend Shigehiro Irie for a translation because the laugh everyone but me was sharing after a Japanese wrestler looked and me and said something. Shige was giving me one of his trademark, infectious “I f***ing love you, bro.” smiles, so I knew it couldn’t be anything too bad. Still I was curious why everyone was laughing - after their initial oh-damn ohs - after I had just deadlifted a Japanese wrestler from the mat and contorted him in a way that made him resemble one of those salty twisty bread things that legend has it a monk invented as a reward-treat for learning their prayers.

“He say, ‘Godd***n he is powerful for a guy that no eat meat!’” Shige told me in his heavily accented, soft-spoken English and returned to laughing.

I laughed too and watched myself do a habitual, bashful head bow.

***

“What are you saying.” Asked my wife, as I repeated “Wa-tash-E-wah-boo-key-yo-toe-des.” aloud in my kitchen.

“I am learning to say ‘I am Buddhist’ in Japanese, to quickly explain why I don’t eat meat or drink alcohol in a way that I believe will be quickly, culturally understood.” I said, explaining in a way my wife would quickly recognize as a habitual, bashful behavior pattern: superficial-yet-satisfying answers, that don’t turn into an interview where I have to awkwardly mumble heavy bits of heavy information at people who, even if they speak the same language as me, will have to translate it in their heads. The anxious assumption being that the thing lost in translation would be their interest and my confidence, as I struggled to make noises with my fumbling face that even faintly resemble complex, steady drum patterns of my mind’s chaotic math-metal translation of the simple, striped-down sonic harmonic sounds pulsating from my heart. Translation: I write better’n I speak.

In a perfect World, I would send them to this link for a more detailed look at my non-sectarian belief system, but as The Buddha said, “The World ain’t perfect, kid.” (Loose translation.) So, I had to settle for “I am a Buddhist.”

***

“What is tattoo on your head?” Asked a member of the DDT locker room.

Rather than give a verbal explanation, I just bowed so everyone could get a good look at my head tattoo.

There was a collective noise amongst those that studied it that I will translate as, “Oh, sh**!”

There was a little discussion in Japanese, then the locker room member asked me, “It is a...uh...mandala?”

“Hai.” I said.

There was a little more discussion in Japanese where I distinguished the word “began” (vegan) and the body language of “doesn’t drink” and one of my pre-Japan trip vocabulary words: “Bukkyōto”.

I cut in on their conversation by saying, “Hai. Watashi wa bukkyōtodesu.”

The pronunciation and context clues were so on point that the locker room member looked at me like I had just tore my shirt off at a wine tasting and said, “You motherf***! You speak Japanese this whole time?”

I laughed and when he translated everyone else laughed.

Habitual, bashful head bow.

***

“How are you going to deal with me on the other side of the Earth for a month?” I asked my wife.

“I’ll miss you, but I am happy for you.” Said the woman who has stuck by me for years and years of saying that.

“Isn’t it a weird synchronicity that I got that message right after I said ‘What I really need is to do a tour, so I can get the repetitions needed to instill all the new lessons I have learned into muscle memory’.

“I was just thinking about that.” She said.

***

“What do you think about moving to Georgia?” I asked my wife.”

“I’ll miss West Virginia, but I am happy for you.” Said the woman who has stuck by me for years and years of following my heart and the wind wherever they’ll take me.

“Isn’t it a weird synchronicity that I got that message about being a head trainer right after I said ‘What I really need to break through my lagging in-ring weaknesses is access to a wrestling ring whenever I want it.”

“I was just thinking about that.” She said.

***

“Ah! You. Like. Japanese. Films. What. Is. Your. Favorite?” Asked my Japanese friend.

“Akira Kurosawa's Ran.” I answered.

“Oh!” He said, looking at me like I had ripped my shirt off at a Steakhouse. “That. Is. Interesting… My. Father. Played. In. That. Movie.”

“Weird synchronicity.” I thought.

“I. Believe. It. Was. Based. On. William. Shakespeare… King. Lear.” My friend added.

“Hai.” I said, reflecting on the Samurai-film that reimaged the core ideas of Shakespeare's examination through entertainment on the contrasting ideas of the chaotic nature of Nature vs the harmonic Nature of Man, or was it the harmonic nature of Nature vs the chaotic Nature of Man? Nevermind.

“Yeah, I never understood Shakespeare until I had it explained to me in Japanese.” I said, hoping that it would invoke the same amount of laughter that it usually does from English speakers when I proclaim my admiration for Kurasawa to them. It did.

After a generous laugh, my friend said, “Very. Good. The. Place. I. Will. Take. You. Is. A. Buddhist. Temple. And. A Grave. Of. Great. Buddhist. Teacher. Who. Helped. Spread. Zen. To. The. West.”

***

“You. Are. b...ahem...Veeegan?” Asked the man who would go on to be my friend, shortly after meeting him.

“Hai.” I answered.

“Ah. I. Do. Not. Eat. Meat. Only. Fish. By. Chance. Have. You. Heard. Of. Sadhguru?”

“Hai.” I answered.

“His. Words. About. How. Meat. Increases. Stress. Hormones. Made. Me. Decide. To. Stop. Eating. Meat.” He said.

“Yeah...um...me, too. Actually.” I answered and watched him light up in a “Did we just become International Best Friends?”. I tried to return the look in a “Of course we did.” sort of way.

Weird synchronicity. I thought.

***

“Have. You. Heard. Of. Eckhart. Tolle?” My Japanese friend asked me.

“Hai.” I answered. “His teachings are very close to Zen Buddhism; in an easier to understand sort of way.”

“Hai.” He replied. “I. Recommend. His. Book. To. People. Struggling. Through. Dark. Periods.”

“Yeah...um...me, too. Actually.” I replied and watched him give me an “Of course.” sort of headnod.

Weird synchronicity. I thought.

***

“What am I reading, now.” I thought as I scrolled through a PDF book journaling a Western student’s interactions with a Japanese Zen master, during the rebuilding process for Japan, after the second World War. My friend had sent it to me to familiarize myself with a man whose grave he was going to take me to, at a temple in the mountains.

I was deep into the semi-interesting diary, when it became much more interesting. Within the context of the journal it turned out through dining table conversation with the student’s mother that the Zen master had stayed in the United States as a young man in the same small, rural town in Illinois that she was from, with one of her best friends. So, most likely, he had met the student’s mother many decades before and thousands of miles away.

Weird synchronicity. I thought.

I kept reading and, a few paragraphs later, the journalist happened to record a meeting between the Zen master, and the man from my other book, Albert Einstein, at the behest of Einstein’s daughter who was also one of the master’s students.

Weird synchronicity. I thought.

***

The light particles from the sun gave my shirtless back a warm hug that felt faintly like a familiar friend from childhood memories long stored away in subconscious toy boxes meant for keeping joy that your not yet ready to experience again safely kept.

I stared up at a willow tree that reminded me of my dead grandparents; the ones whose house fostered me into my love for wrestling, the ones that spent their Sunday afternoons after church yelling “get ‘em” at their bare-chested grandson, the ones whose house fostered me into a better man when it gave me a refuge to explore the contents of my conscious after I inherited it. For my lifetime, they always kept a willow in their yard. I thought of myself as a joy-filled kindergartener daydreaming in the shade of the tree that’s said to weep.

I watched the ravens make sport in and around the tree. It reminded me of when I was an angry, self-and-other-harming middle-schooler daydreaming of being under arena lights dressed as the wrestler Raven.

It felt like many lifetimes had passed since I had been those versions of Jason Kincaid. “It’s the whole reincarnation thing.” I thought. “At light speed it’s all the same moment.” I added.

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