November 14, 2009

Japan Year 7

November 13th marks my anniversary of coming to Japan. Around this time of year I'm always taken back to that time. A lot has changed since then, and then again, not much seems to have changed at all. Buildings have gone up and down, I've moved more times than I care to have, I've changed jobs between radically different industries and I can now say with confidence that I can speak Japanese better than ever.

This past year has been incredibly tough, stressful, chaotic, surprising, full of crises and problems. And yet I would not change a thing. Being under this much pressure has forced me to prioritize, find more efficient ways to do things, spend less, make more, and reassess and transform my business. A lot of things went sour, but there were also a lot of new opportunities that came up. Two years ago NOVA went belly-up, dragging thousands of people into a nightmare I rather not remember. Since then I've focused entirely on SoHo, giving it my all and all every day. I'm exhausted. The good thing is that it keeps going, we've had to tweak, cut back, adjust, trim, and restructure to make through a very bad business climate. We had the chance to rethink what SoHo is and design and build a new gallery space from scratch! My life is SoHo now. It's about all I can think about. Not the building, not the walls, but rather the people who make up this crazy place.

The gallery has become my child, and while it is very hard to run it, I would not do anything else in the world. Today, as I write this entry we're preparing for two rather large group shows with a total of 80 people participating. Nowdays I live for this kind of challenge and I love it. I've also been fortunate enough to have met dozens and dozens of really amazing people, working with them, talking with them and generally looking for a way forward in life and business. I now find myself writing for two great publications and taking part in a whole world of mainstream and underground art events doing business almost exclusively in Japanese.

Japan is like an onion. the more layers you peel, the more layers you find underneath. The more I think I know this place, the more I realise I don't! That is what fascinates me about this place, you never reach the bottom. In the 6 years I've been here I feel that I know less than when I first arrived. Freaky isn't it? The more you learn about the culture and its customs and its history, the more that is expected of you. Thus you're set up for much more learning and unique experiences. I've learned more Japanese over the past 2 years than in the 4 years before opening the gallery. The reason? survival.

The safety net is out, it burned off one fateful october day in 2007. While I am not yet where I want to be in terms of financial independence and business success, Thank God I'm no longer in the dark place I was in before. The road is still long ahead, and there are a shitload of challenges waiting for me, most of them under a crapload of layers I haven't even come across yet. Who knows what the future will bring. Come what may, That is less important than being able to realise that life is not this thing that you can plan out and predict. That in itself is one hell of a thing to know.

Here's to the start of year 7 in the land of sushi!

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