It was passed midnight on January 4th, 2000.
I was standing in the middle of nowhere.
I took a highway bus, over-slept, and missed my stop.
The bus driver woke me up.
"It's the last stop, my friend. You HAVE to get off."
When I got off the bus, I did not recognize anything around.
There was just typical sight of winter countryside in California: long roads, hills, trees...
Where would these roads go, and which direction should I take?
I had no idea.
Regrets, regrets, and regrets; I should have bought a map or something.
Was I not smart enough to plan ahead?
The bus had already left.
It was so dark and quiet...getting a bit scary.
The air temperature was freezing cold.
The feeling temperature was zero degrees. My feeling was also zero.
Was there zero hope? No, hope was something that I had to create by myself.
I had absolutely no idea where the right direction was, but, at least, I had to proceed forward.
My body heat would be gone, and I would freeze to death if I did not move.
”Will of survival” was creature's natural instinct.
To make the situation worse, my body condition was not 100% bright.
Just a month ago, I was hospitalized for a couple of weeks because of heavy asthma reaction.
I beg you, my lord, please do not let it recur at this moment.
An eclipsed moon and countless stars were at the sky...breathtakingly beautiful as usual.
My breath was white with mixture of cigarette smoke and cold air.
You looked so cute when you were sitting on the airport bench, stooping your body and bearing with the cold.
At the same time, I was sick and tired of how ignorant and loose I was.
That was just a few hours ago, but it felt like ancient time ago.
Why was I here?
Why did I come all the way to here? For whom?
Some great man once said: "Just go, and you will find out."
But it was so discouraging to keep walking without knowing where the goal was.
When I was thrown into the nature, I could realise how powerless I was.
I was powerless as either human being or animal.
However, no matter how powerless I was, I was the only person I could rely on.
I guess I was misunderstanding that I was powerful.
The illusion of power came from the heritage created by other people from both past and present.
For example, the road that I was walking on was made by many nameless people.
The bus that I took was invented by countless geniuses.
The clothes that I was wearing were created by those who had certain skill and knowledge.
It was them; I did nothing.
How long had I walked?
I was walking toward north...or west, I thought.
Many different thoughts were spinning in my head.
Hold on a sec, wasn't there a gas station near the last bus stop?
Maybe there was a public phone booth too.
Should I have made a phone call to my family in Japan?
Should I have informed them that "I am in a deep deep trouble"?
There was no point to make them worried.
Even if they knew that I was in trouble, they couldn't have done anything, except wishing my luck.
They were living too far away.
The best thing I could do was to keep walking.
That was the only way I could prolong the heat of life.
The same, beautiful night sky was still up there...
How long had I walked?
The time was passing 3 A.M.
I needed something to look forward to; perhaps, a cigarette per hour?
The tiny light with warmth was looking lovely.
I could not give up my hope.
This was a challenge for me to overcome and grow up.
How long had I walked?
My feet were starting to hurt.
Sometimes, cars with bright head lights passed in the dim night road.
Every time when they came, I hid myself in the bush.
I did not know what kind of people were driving so late at night.
Not knowing made them look scary.
Someone once said that "human being is the most scary being for human being."
Greed, envy, grudge, anger, lie...
Nature do not hold any of these negative components that we hold.
Nature stays natural and flows without any specific reason or emotion.
Nature has such elegant, powerful, limitless, and invincible presence.
Nature IS "there", and it never betrays the fact.
Some people say that that is exactly why they find nature scary.
But, for me, the presence of nature is too overpowering that it does not fit to my subject of scariness.
Human being is scary, nature is invincible, and I am the powerless.
Oh, it was getting REALLY cold.
I believed that everything was going to be alright when the morning finally arrived.
I could feel so. I just had to keep moving.
How long had I walked?
My watch was showing 5 A.M.
I could see the slight light at the edge of sky.
So, I guess, this way was East, after all.
Now, I REALLY longed for the sun.
“Can I...make it out of this misery?” Slight hope arose in my head.
At the same time, I was really starting to feel the weight of my Boston bag.
Five or six of "Weekly Gong" magazines, Judo uniform, socks, and some other stuff were in it.
"Maybe I should have bought a chocolate or something," I thought while lighting up a cigarette.
This might be the perfect time to say "Please, Mr. America! Give me chocolate!"
I had lived for twenty years.
Some might say that it's only twenty years.
In a situation like this, when I was all alone, I could not help thinking about the past.
In fact, this might be a great opportunity.
I remembered thinking, until I was around 5 years old, that I was special.
Without any specific reason, I was picturing myself standing in the center of the world, and the world was spinning around me.
The most important thing, however, was to know what MY center was.
My center, meaning, to have my own, strong "belief" and act with invincible passion.
No matter how tiny, limited, or sissy existence I was, I had to find or create my own center.
I came up with the conclusion just before high school graduation.
For the sake of God, how long had I walked?
It was already after 7 A.M., and the sun was already up.
However, the sun ray was not warm as I expected.
As a matter of fact, it might have been even colder than the night time.
Was it because of my body condition?
Was I running out of my own heat?
All of a sudden, I felt extremely exhausted and sleepy.
Maybe I was too relieved to finally meet the same-o-friendly sun.
I had a good idea: should I just sleep?
It was morning, and the sun was already up.
By then, the possibility for someone to attack me would have been very little.
Every healthy person tends to wake up early in the morning...no one is a bad person.
I wouldn't be attacked by animals either, I thought.
I mean...the possibility was very slim, I thought, I hoped.
Bears were winter sleeping, and wolves were busy doing other stuff.
I was getting too sleepy that my head was starting to spin.
There was no time to hesitate.
I did not know too much about the neighborhood, but the land was on the same earth, after all.
What was there to fear?
I stepped out of the road and laid myself on the ground.
I mean...it was freezing COLD.
When I looked carefully, there was frost under the ground.
How the heck could I possibly sleep in a place like THIS!! Aww, I had no choice; I closed my eyes forcefully.
After a couple of minutes, vicious headaches started to strike me.
Headaches from the COLDNESS!!
If I said in a general term, "my bone was freezing to death."
I was feeling it, especially, on my face, shoulders, back, and toes.
Was it a one-way ticket?
Would I ever be able to wake up again if I fell asleep in here?
Probably not, and that was really NOT a good thing to happen.
My head was so heavy, but I decided to keep walking.
I was once about to give up my strength, and my body's gear was messed up.
It was not cool anymore.
What was there to be ashamed of?
I finally wore my Judo uniform over my jacket.
(Collaboration with Satoshi Takahira)