Perspectives from a Year in: a Matter of Will

“A warrior knows he is waiting for his will.”   – Don Juan


It’s been a little over a year since I embarked on this journey of doing a bit of everything.  In the last “Perspectives” piece I noted some of the challenges I faced with a blank slate and open schedule.  I won’t sugar coat and tell you it has gotten any easier.  Though the time passed effortlessly, it was the hardest year of my life.  This is measurable in tears.  I cried more tears of sadness, frustration, and very occasionally, joy, than any other time in my memory.

Sharath Jois put it simply at his Tokyo workshop this year: “we cry when something is difficult”.  At the risk of exaggerating or complaining, every aspect of my life since quitting is more difficult than before.

Silver Linings

The Music – ostensibly the reason I left the full time job, I have progressed the least in this area compared to my hopes and expectations.  But there have been pockets of production, like Tokyo Snow and Tokyo Sakura, that I could never have done with a day job.

The YogaAshtanga doesn’t ever get easier, but moving to a real studio and contending with one injury/sickness after another was a level up from home practice every day last year.  But I kept my practice and the injuries are beginning to fade.

The Diet – feeding myself was the greatest unforeseen challenge of year one – both the time and energy required to do so and the finding of the right foods to nourish and energize me.  But I’ve cooked hundreds of meals, impossible under the constraints of the last job.

The Health – I’ve gotten sick and injured more than in previous years – due to a combination of weakness brought on by dietary changes, working with small children, and generally expending more energy than in the past.  But I’ve grown in understanding of my body and limitations.

The Job – despite my greatest inclinations I do still have a “job” – teaching pre-elementary Japanese kids.  As I’m (perhaps too) fond of saying, it’s 10x the challenge and 1/10 the pay.  But then I never cried tears of joy on the trading floor.

The Relationship – haha, all I’ll say is thank you to my one and only for sticking through this year.  We are still together and are stronger for the travails we have overcome.

The Life – the above are the totality of my blue belt life, and as each area has become more difficult, so has my life.  But I survived, and I learned and grew more than in any other period.

As you’ll note in each of the above, there’s a silver lining to every challenge, and following your calling in life is the greatest and most worthy challenge.  Despite the tears and frustration, if you ask me “Do I recommend joining this path?” I answer with a resounding “Yes.”

A Matter of Will

Year two brings greater challenges.  The stakes are higher as I continue to cut into savings even as I haven’t tackled one great part of my calling – creating a family.

In year one I unlocked my potential to do good work in the world.  In year two I need to convert this potential into good deeds. Our will is what converts our ideas into actions in the world.  I believe part of the difficulty I experienced in the last year is that before I had never really exercised my will.  Now I must do so every day.  And in doing so it has strengthened, but only to a point.  As I try to live every day according to my calling, I wait for my will to become strong enough to sustain me on this path.

At the advice of Ryan Allis, I reclined one sleepless night and listed out concrete goals for the year ahead.  These include building this site and growing the audience.  In this you can help – if you haven’t done so, please subscribe to my YouTube channel – I have some good content in the pipeline and if I can get to 1000 subscribers I can partner with YouTube Japan in creating more and better content.

Through the last year your comments and suggestions have powered the content of this site, and your kind words have raised my spirits through periods of doubt.  Keep those coming, especially critiques, ideas for content, or ways I can improve.  Also, anyone who wants to share the experience of pursuing their dreams, I am planning to increase guest content, so let me know!

Though I survived a year on the outside, I am still a long way from thriving at this generalist approach to a blue belt life.  But all is possible with the will.  I can build a successful blog, but will I?  I can share my music with the world, but will I?  I can live a blue belt life, but will I?  These are the questions I begin to answer in year two.

2 thoughts on “Perspectives from a Year in: a Matter of Will

  1. Stephen Gidge

    I feel more inclined than many ( well actually anyone 😉 to comment at this point. In Duss we Truss. It`s more important to do what you want and makes you happy than getting stuck in the grind. How much is enough? is a question many seem to ignore. Whatever makes you happy in life is the path you should follow. I enjoy reading your commentary. We are following the same path, you just happened to find it earlier.
    “Smile and don`t let the little things bother you” La Femme Nikita

    1. Chris Duss

      Gidge, great to hear from you and thank you. You are an example to all of us – leaving the grind for a simpler, more sustainable, and happier existence. Living in Tokyo is still a contradiction to the aim of a blue belt life – namely frugality, sustainability, AND following one’s calling. But there are plenty of avenues to act out my calling here and it is possible to alleviate, if not fully remove, the former two. I would go a step further with your line on happiness, and say it also must be something that leverages your natural skills (your “calling”) and expands knowledge in this world. Plenty of people would say their job and the money and security it provides makes them happy, but I don’t think these are sufficient reasons to engage in an activity.