I Forgot How Much Jetlag Sucks! (or, `some super-tired half-thoughts on the complexity of being human`)

I had an idea for a blog post on my flight over to Japan. I made notes about it during the train journey across to the guest house I`m staying in. I figured I`d type them up into a proper little article Sunday evening or sometime Monday. But my laptop battery had died and I`d forgotten to bring an adaptor for the plug.

I bought an adaptor today so my laptop is ready to go. My brain is not. Just . . . nope.

This is exactly how I feel!
Photo by Burst on Pexels.com

I`ve made this journey from UK to Japan and back a number of times now (genuinely too tired to count them up), but I always forget what the jetlag is like. And for some reason I decide to make up what it will be like: my body clock being off by eight hours so that I feel awake in the evening and sleepy in the morning. But its not like that at all.

I drift in and out of being tired and awake, seemingly at random. And the same with hunger. Im going from zero appetite to, “Is it illegal to grab and eat crows?” with no warning at all. Luckily crows are nearly impossible to catch, so I`ve avoided legal recourse so far.

But you didn’t come here to just read about my misery (or if you did, you can stop now because it`s all serious chat` from here on in). The problem is, though, that when my body doesn’t get enough sleep and/or food at the right time, my head stops working so well, and tasks like drawing spiritual lessons out of life experiences really, really . . . yeah, cant do it!

And that`s frustrating for someone like me, who works with words for a living (as much as missionaries work for their living). In the culture of Japan where (it feels like) the solution to most difficulties is to `ganbaru` – “dig deep,” “work hard,” “do you best!” And with a heritage of reliance on prayer to take tasks from `impossible` to `difficult` to `done.`

Because as people we are connected beings. And that means that sometimes the solution to a problem, like being able to turn rough notes into a clear and engaging blog post, is not better writing strategies, or just to dig deep and plough through, or even not to turn to prayer. But actually to rest, eat, sleep, drink plenty of water, and wait for the jetlag to pass.

“If you want to watch the sunrise, you`ve got . . . nah, just kidding, go take a nap.”
Photo by Arthur Brognoli on Pexels.com

So that`s what I`m going to do. Come back next week for the blog post that is still currently a pile of mush in the back of my brain (but don`t get your hopes up too much!).

Walking to work, reading to write, receiving to give.

You may have noticed that I haven`t blogged in a while. I really enjoy writing but I find it super hard. Or at least I find publishing hard. Writing is fairly natural once I get myself to sit down at the keyboard and ignore the urges for some Facebook scrolling.

So I`ve been reading. A bunch of stuff. In the last couple of weeks I`ve read:

The Shock of the Fall – Nathan Filer

Silence & Beauty – Makoto Fujimura

The Message of Discipleship – Peter Morden

The Living Mountain – Nan Shepherd

The only thing these books have in common is that they’re books. But for me that`s enough to get me writing again. I read because I love reading. But I also read to write.

And the same is true of walking. When time and distance aren`t too much of a factor, walking is my favourite mode of transport. Among other reasons, because walking helps me work.

I was recently asked what my favourite way to relax is. Since living in Japan, my number one answer has become `onsen.` And number two is walking. Proper walking. Getting out into the hills, make sure to bring something to eat, don`t-forget-your-raincoat type walking. I know there`s some science about blue skies prompting creativity, and no doubt fresh air and exercise does wonders for the circulatory and what-not systems, but what I know for sure is that after a good walk I am ready to work.

Last weekend I went up two of the Yorkshire Three Peaks(Ingleborough and Pen-y-Ghent). The weather was classically British and mostly overcast, which is to say the views were still spectacular. And as a bonus, I finished reading Shock of the Fall on the car ride back.


And then last week I just got a lot of stuff done. Including some writing, and more impressively for me some admin.

You might be the same. Or you might be one of those strange folk who find admin empowering. Maybe the way you recharge is by baking (if so, can I give you my address?) or wood carving, or going for a drive, or [fill in blank]. But I think we all face the pressure to keep giving without taking the time to receive.

There are no doubt the occasional times when we have to just push on and grind through. But as I start to plan my return to Japan this Autumn and think about how crazy busy I got during my last four years there, I am increasingly convinced that if I am really going to give myself to the Japanese church, I am going to need to first receive grace to face the grit. I am going to need to read in order to write, and I am going to walk to work.

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