Short blog posts, journal entries, and random thoughts. Topics include a mix of personal and the world at large. 

Post-travel depression

I don’t really get post-travel depression; not even for Korea, a country I finally visited in 2017 and was highly anticipated I literally ticked off days on the calendar. But after this recent trip, it’s quite serious.

I really miss Japan.

It’s been more than three weeks since I’ve return to the States, and I’m still hankering to be back in that wonderful country. Undergoing the process of editing all the photographs I took certainly hasn’t help: every new picture is a stark reminder that I am no longer there, and instead, back to the reality of my regular everyday life.

Not to say my life sucks; far from it. This isn’t the typical sort of post-travel depression where the person who returns from vacation cannot bear the mundane grind of his life, that the travel destination is so awesome and spectacular that regular life becomes comparatively worse. Then the person struggles through it, holding back the anguish long enough to make it to the checkpoint of the next vacation, and the cycle begins again. That is indeed a stressful way to live, and if you so dislike your job and/or life, you really should make a change. Let the sadness be the catalyst.

In my particular case of post-travel sadness, it is because the culture of Japan fits me so absolutely well. No other place I’ve been to have I felt so familiar and at-ease, where the surroundings feels just right, and the mechanics of life there super in-tune with my personality. I concede that recency bias may be playing its usual tricks, but honestly I can say that perhaps in another life, I’d be living in Japan full-time. It is that special of a place.

A subject I shall greatly expand upon in the dedicated photo stories article on the entire 9-day Japan trip, an article I’m very looking forward to writing. Stay tuned.

A sight you definitely won’t ever see back in the States.

Money doesn't solve everything

I am extremely shocked and sad at the news of Anthony Bourdain killing himself this morning. He had what I and many others consider the dream job: traveling throughout the world and eating amazing food, yet plainly that wasn't enough. In the same week that Kate Spade also committed suicide, it goes to show that money, fame, and power can't possibly solve all of life's problems.

People that don't have money or power can't fathom the possibility someone with those things can still be dissatisfied with life. The usual rebuttal to the maxim "money can't buy happiness" goes "I rather be unhappy with lots of money"; well, Bourdain and Spade were obviously quite unhappy while having lots of money, and it led to death. 

Is that what you want? 

It's easy for the have-nots to imagine having unlimited funds to satiate wants would lead to a happy life. It indeed feels wonderful to buy material things and obtain various luxuries of life, but it's fleeting. Demons that existed when you are poor don't suddenly go away just because there's a large influx of cash. 

I've been there. 

In 2013 I felt like luckiest boy when I purchase my then dream car (Subaru WRX STI). I'd spent the preceding years saving up hard and it was a personal victory I was super proud of. The euphoria did not last however because in 2014 I fell into depression due to various reasons. Having the trappings of a nice car and a stable job did absolutely nothing to prevent it from happening. On paper I should be incredibly content with life, but I obviously was not, even if I wanted to be, 

Reading and traveling retrieved me from my rut. 

So it's from personal experience that I can readily see how someone like Bourdain who seemingly has it all can reach a mental place where continuing to live became untenable. It's truly sad. 

My kind of morning rays. 

My kind of morning rays. 

Rest in peace, Kim Jonghyun

I woke up to horrible new this morning: Kpop group SHINee member Kim Jonghyun found dead in his home in an apparent suicide.

He was 27.

As someone who reveled in turning 30 just last week, Jonghyun's death somehow felt like a gut-punch to me. Never mind that SHINee is one of my favorite Kpop acts, and Jonghyun had arguably the best male vocals in the business (his ending to SM The Ballad's 'Hot Times' is a master class). It's heartbreaking to see someone so at the end of his wits that the ultimate and lasting release of death was the better option. 

At only 27 years of age. So much potential and life still ahead, but he couldn't see it. Even for me who have been through depression, I can't begin to imagine being in that place.

All the veneer of Jonghyun's success and veneration hid a deep trouble no one knew. Us fans on the outside can see but the happy side of fame and fortune, but we all have struggles, no matter the social standing. Money is a great problem solver yet it can never cover a hole that depression creates. To pull oneself out takes a combination of personal perseverance and outside help.

Unfortunately, in Asia it may still be shockingly taboo to seek psychological help, especially for a celebrity like Jonghyun. People would surely ask what can a world-class entertainer with all the accolades and money possibly have to be sad about? It's tremendous ignorance, and a total blind-spot of first-world Asia and its singular focus on equating success with happiness.

Let's be kind to one another. Appearances can mask hurt: reach out, simply to say hello. We are one in this world, and communication reaffirms it to those momentarily impeded from remembering. 

Thank you, Jonghyun. I pray you've found your peace.