I know that probably sounds arrogant, but I don't mean that I like the perception of power or authority or importance or any of the other things that such a title might conjure up. It's in that mysterious and mystical quality I associate with Japan and its ninjas and samurais and culture of honour and impeccable discipline. Something of that sort floats into my mind every time I heard the word sensei, and it's a subtle reminder of the vastly different culture I find myself surrounded by and working within.
But alas, in just a few short months, I will no longer be Katie sensei.
It's strange finding myself suddenly face to face with life on the other side of this experience. I've spent hours and days and weeks and months contemplating what my next step might be, where I might find myself after I leave Akita, what I want to "do with my life". As if today and now isn't already a part of it. As if every day doesn't count towards what I build my dreams and hopes around. In fact, it is, and it does. Of course. But now, instead of casting around mere speculations about how The Other Side might feel, I have to come to terms with the knowledge that, in about the same amount of time that has elapsed since spring vacation, I will be stepping off a plane back in Toronto for good.
Putting it that way startles me a bit.
I could say it scares me, but that's not quite true. It just startles me. It makes me feel all kinds of things. I look forward to returning home and being surrounded by what was once familiar, but I am jarred by how little I have left of the different-ness of Japan. I can't wait to sit down and chat with my family at the kitchen table, but my emotions rise at the thought of all the people I will have said goodbye to by the time I have the chance to do so.
One thing is certain: the future is uncertain, and I'm finally feeling prepared to step up to the challenge of facing it with patience, trust, joy, and even excitement. In the meantime, I'm going to get every last drop of enjoyment and wisdom I can from this whole Japan thing, and go out with a bang.