Spitting the Dummy & Throwing the Towel

May 1 cont...

When I got back to my room my embarassment turned to anger at my ignorance and naivete. There was no way I could do this! Everyday felt like an interminable struggle from the moment of waking to the moment of blessed sleep and I wanted out!

Joseph Campbell said the Hero gets the journey he is ready for. This was not the journey I had hoped for at all. I admit to suspecting I was badly under prepared - I just didn't anticipate how being under prepared would collide so fatally with not knowing the language and decided, for the sake of my mental health, I had to forgo the pilgrimage.

I got changed back into my walking clothes, pulled apart my pack and angrily took out everything 'monk' styled, as well as my second pair of shoes and my Oliver Statler bible and put them all in a plastic bag. I was amazed at how much the bag weighed.

I immediately noticed two things.
All the clothes I had removed were black or grey and even before putting my pack on, I felt like a load had been taken off my shoulders.

My ego had been decimated but it felt like the realistic, grown-up part of me suspected this might happen - and maybe knew it needed to.

I still wanted to go and visit Kobo Daishi so I put everything in a corner and walked along the road to his burial place in the cemetary.

It was a nice feeling to be able to get there easily from having been there the previous day.
I paid for five bundles of incense, kept four, lit one and sat in front of the gates to his mausoleum.
As I sat there a young, fit looking, hard-core Japanese Henro arrived and proceeded with his rituals. I watched him and, with tears of regret, knew I had made the right decision to abandon this ridiculousness.
What was I thinking?
Whatever it was was so far removed from my office job, city living reality, I couldn't believe I could fool myself that I might have been able to do it.

I still prayed to Kobo Daishi.
I had some unraveling to do and felt comforted that someone-anyone might be with me.
Yet, strangely I felt he had been with me all along.

One of the many representations of Kobo Daishi

As I walked the scenic route back to the temple through the graveyard, I kept turning around, thinking I could hear someone behind me.
The Daishi?

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