A Ferret Called Wilson

Chasing Happy, Chasing Dreams


June 2015


When I entered college, I cheated. I did two things that were technically against the rules.

1. I applied as a transfer student because I had missed the deadline to apply as a freshman. It got my application a lot of attention.
2. Instead of a statement of purpose, or an admission essay or a cover letter, or whatever those things are where you say why they should admit you to their school, I wrote a two page essay on how love can save the world.

Out of 900 students applying for admission to Yale university as transfer students, my tricks got me one of only 25 available slots.

Today I wonder to myself how I got so far from those beliefs. I wonder to myself how it was that ten years passed and I forgot the power and the audacity I had as a teenager when I bucked the rules of admission at the top university in the entire country — and got in. I wonder to myself how I ever got so tame.

There is another thought that plagues me these days. Love can save the world. I love passionately, wholly, unreservedly, and more often than not, one sidedly. I have asked myself here on this blog on more than one occasion: If I have this paradise to offer, why does no one take me up on it?

Today, I think I have found this answer, too. I have not actually invited anyone.

Often I feel desperately alone. I don’t think it’s because no one cares about me. I think it’s because in our world we are raised inside invisible barriers that separate us from one another. These barriers take the form of propriety, manners, ettiquette, and respect. The only times we are allowed to breach these boundaries are in romance, and we are only allowed to be in love with one person at a time. This is a recipe for perpetual isolation in no small part because we cannot even see that the cage that holds us is of our own making.

So, why have I not invited anyone to my paradise? My paradise is built of infinite, unbounded love. It is love for myself, love for my fellow humans and love for the awesomeness of the earth that holds me. I have not confessed my love to anyone, not in earnest, not openly and plainly, and this is why I am alone in my world.

It’s scary to confess your love. We are taught that confessions of love must be met with reciprocation or refuttal, but nothing in between. We don’t know that it’s possible to be loved by someone without that person requiring anything from us, so we don’t know how to respond when unconditional love is offered to us. Most of the time, we mistake it for infatuation, romance, or sexual attraction. If we don’t feel this way towards the person loving us, more often than not it spells the end of our relationship with each other. That’s why it’s so scary to offer your love. It’s not because we fear the other person might not feel the same way, but that we fear we may be rejected as humans, that our most precious gift will be scorned, and this is no trivial fear.

But I am a trailblazer. I am an alpha, a loner, a wild beast and a goddess. I listen to all, but take counsel from my heart alone. I shall declare my love! I shall do this honestly, openly, and without hope for reciprocation. I shall take steps to guarantee that my confessions do not manipulate or pressure the humans that I love, and I shall declare my love only to those who I know I am ready to accept immediately and whole heartedly into my paradise.

This frightens me. But I have learned most recently that fear, deep, smouldering fear is my surest sign that I am traveling the path I have been seeking. We only fear when we know what we have to lose. Fear is replacing my anxiety, a kind of nervous unease that all I did and all I am is worth nothing. Fear burns.

Fear wakes the beast and the beast is in love with life.

Of Rain and Glee

Today was my second chance to ride with Thunder. I’m blown away yet again.

Compared to my first ride (which you can read about here), this one was emotionally much more tame. It also involved much more mad laughter.

It happened to me over and over again. He would lead me up some beastly climb. I would sweat and pant and growl. On occasion I caught myself actually drooling from concentration and exertion. Once I thought I was going to puke. Then the road would flatten out. The steep hills would soften and we would reach the summit. Before I knew it I was cackling with wanton joy; laughing like a madwoman escaped from her confines.

Thunder laughed, too. I was howling my way up a 17% grade and he starts to laugh at me. “Do you laugh at my exertion?” I asked. “No, I laugh because I’m having fun.”


It was a day spent in communion of holy Sickness.


Continue reading “Of Rain and Glee”







I quit facebook last year around July. Facebook is astoundingly hard to quit, not just because they hide the controls to do it and then don’t actually erase your data or delete your account so that you can, at any time, log in and everything is exactly the way it was when you left, but because even in a country like Japan which came relatively late to the facebook party, massive quantities of social life and business take place exclusively on facebook.

There are a few people in my community who do their primary marketing and public communications on facebook. I want to help them and be a part of their projects, but it is difficult for us to communicate because I refuse to use facebook and they refuse to use non-facebook. We end up only ever making plans when we run into each other at other events, or if one of us goes out of our way to chase the other down. This specific group of people frequently and unrelentingly try to get me back on facebook and usually the only way to shut them down is to remind them that I quit because it triggers my depression.

Not so long ago I was added to a group on facebook that I desperately want to be a part of. It is a closed group, joinable only by invitation, and it disseminates information about biking that I am most literally starving for. Suddenly I have a reason worth logging in for. I have browsed a few times in the last weeks, hungry for updates from this group, but still wary of the ill effects that facebook has on my mood, and it dawned on me exactly what it is about facebook that triggers such strong depressive states in me.

First, let’s all agree that baby photos, photos of your food, and political campaign messages are universally annoying. Beyond that, however, is a problem so very unique to facebook that I honestly do not know a solution, or even on whom the burden of solving it should lie. The problem is the following. In my life there are dreams I have carried for years that have not become accessible to me. Lately my focus is on bicycle related dreams, but there are many others. My friends are all people who share some sort of dream with me — you know, you make friends with people with similar interests — and so their facebook posts tend to be about the things that I dream about. This would be a good thing except that when I see my friends achieving what I have always wanted, but never figured out how to have, it shreds my confidence in my own abilities and qualities as a human. Furthermore, I often find myself wondering, “They know that this is something I’m desperately yearning for, and yet they don’t share it with me? Why not? Do they not care? Do they not want me as part of their life?” It doesn’t matter if I know that my reaction is more to the nature of facebook posts than to the people themselves, it still hurts. It hurts tremendously.

I hate facebook because it forces me to repeatedly see other people acquiring the things of my dreams and doing it without me. It hurts. I hate it. Naturally any non-insane person would know to stop doing something that hurts for sure, and so I tried to quit facebook, but my friends all want me back. What to do?

The most difficult aspect of the facebook dilemma is that I want my friends to achieve their dreams. I want my friends to be happy and I want them to share their happy with me. Moreover, if my friends acquire what I dream of, then I can ask them how to get those things myself, and as a result those things should become more accessible to me, too. Somehow, though, the latter never happens. Even though objectively I wish for my friends to go right on doing what they are doing, because they share on facebook and not to me in person, I always end up feeling left out, like I wasn’t invited to the party.

But what do you do? Do you tell your friends not to post about their successes? Or the fun they have? Of course not! Then facebook would ONLY be baby photos, food photos, (photos of edible  babies?) and political hate speach. That can NOT be an improvement by anyone’s standards.

My only solution has been to walk away from facebook. I feel more isolated because I literally cannot join my friends in activities that they only advertise through facebook, but at least I do not incessantly hurt myself when I am alone and feeling vulnerable. And I can use the excuse that I don’t use facebook to make my friends tell me about their lives in person. Hell, I can even go chase them down and say, “Hey! What’s going on in your life? What have you posted on facebook for everyone else to see that I would be interested in knowing?” And you know what? Most of the time, they tell me! It’s hard, I won’t deny it. It’s stressful to always have to be the one to initiate contact. For sure, though, it’s better than the alternative.

耳の届かない話 Words I cannot share with you








English Continue reading “耳の届かない話 Words I cannot share with you”

Still in Pain

First, I would like to apologize. That title is a pun. It’s not appropriate to make puns about being in pain because puns are funny (even if only in the “har har…groan” sense), and pain is not funny. So, sorry for the poor pain pun.*

Recently I had the opportunity to practice being still in my pain. I have mentioned in previous posts about the Numbness — that feeling of excrutiating pain in your soul that just cannot fully manifest itself into tears, and ends up filling your body with an overwhelming numbness that claws at your heart and dims your vision, making you feel like an empty shell in a world made of cardboard. The Numbness is a kind of existential pain, and like all pain, it eventually passes.

I say I had the opportunity to be still in my pain because being still in pain, particularly the numbing kind, allows us to fully experience it, and by experiencing it, allow it to pass. For most of us, the reflexive reaction to pain is to tense up and brace against it. This is true of pain in our bodies, but pain in our hearts can do the same. We also instinctively try to run from the source of the pain. Pain in our bodies is easier to deal with because our bodies know how to deal with pain: remove the source, place a protective scar over the wound, then repair the damage. Pain in our hearts is more difficult. Sometimes we don’t know what the source is, so we run around in panic. Sometimes we put a scar over the wound without removing the source, sealing it in and preventing healing. Sometimes we place a scar so thick, and then forget to remove it later, so that we are emotionally crippled. Stillness is the salve that cures the wound and removes the pain.

Because I was able to sit in stillness for three solid days, doing absolutely nothing to relieve my pain or my fear of more pain to come, I think I was finally able to understand where the pain was coming from. As I sat on my porch, sipping a bitter sweet drink of cool honey-vinegar, the shade over my eyes began to thin and brighten and I began to see finally that my pain was bubbling up from two sources.

First, there was the pain I was experiencing from forcing myself into a role that does not allow for complete expression of who I am. I speak here of my job as an economist. In the past, I thought I was feeling a sense of inadequacy (maybe I was?) that perhaps I am not suited to be an economist because I’m not good enough at it. I thought that my lack of publications was perhaps the result of some flaw in my character — I don’t put in enough hours at work, or my attention deficit disorder prevents me from being able to focus on the minute details of formatting and submitting my work to professional journals. I also felt at times that my pain was perhaps being caused by the incessant judgmental nature of academia. Until you have tenure, you are constantly being evaluated and your livelihood depends on you outperforming in some measurable sense most of your other peers. It is nearly impossible to focus on producing good quality work that answers truly important questions when doing so puts you at risk of going against the greater body of academics who hold the power to decide your future.

In the past, when I have felt this pain of inadequacy and uncertainty about my job, my reaction was to run from it by taking steps to secure my future position. This meant spending more time and more energy devoted to something that did not fulfill me and brought me more pain and more discontent. Even as my conscious mind was aware of the reality that there is nothing particularly special about being an economist that I should bleed my soul for it, I was at the same time unable to see that my actions were at all times reactions to the pain and fear of losing that identity. Put another way, I was stuck in my unhappiness because I kept attempting to escape it by looking backwards at where I came instead of forwards at where I wanted to go. I had no idea where I wanted to go and I didn’t even know that I didn’t know. Rough, no?

The second source of pain that became apparent to me was my relationship (or lack of relationship) with my friends. I have always fought to have good friends and I to this day do not understand why it doesn’t happen. In the past I have often blamed myself for not being proactive enough; I didn’t tell the boy that I liked him (Thunder, I like you HARD, like I want your penis to like my vagina: HARD! There. I said it. Are we friends now? Hmm…), so I’m the only one to blame if our relationship never deepens; No one ever invites me out to play with them, but if I don’t invite them out, then I’m equally to blame that we don’t hang out. Right? What I learned from my stillness is that it doesn’t matter. I am not in possession of the friendships that I crave, and this lack causes me pain.

It took three days of silent, still, intentional inaction to finally understand where my pain was coming from. These days were difficult for me. At every moment, even as the Numbness threatened to suffocate me, I forced myself to remain still. If my thoughts reached out to try and find solutions to my pain, I brought them back. I said to myself, “No, mind, you cannot find a solution to a problem that you do not truly understand. First, let us understand why you hurt so much.”

I feel much stronger and more resilient now than before I spent my time in Stillness. Ironically, my relationships to my friends have not changed, nor have I found a new career path to replace the one that I am sure I must leave. At the same time, however, I feel that a stillness has come to my soul. Where once it felt like a sea under storm, it is much closer now to a windswept lake.

I think that in our world we are told to take action too often. There is this idea that if you do nothing, then you are at fault for your lack of success. I think that this advice at one time used to be good, but has become warped in a society that lacks opportunity for stillness. When one’s default is stillness, then only action can bring new insight. Sometimes, even the switch from inaction to action is enough to focus our intentions and make clear to us what our hearts are craving. However, when we are constantly bombarded with new stimuli, new claims on our attention, new ways to numb the pain, then action can never be wholly separated from reaction and we cannot know if what we do is in fact what our unique being is directing us to do. When this is the place we find ourselves in, only inaction can be trusted to reflect our true desires.

As a result of my stillness and inaction, I have hope now that, at least for a short while, my actions are springing forth authentically from my own Self. I have hope that the steps I choose to take forward, even as they terrify me, are steps towards something that is better than what I am leaving behind.

To close my thoughts, I want to share with you a conversation I had with the manager of my favorite bike shop. In my frustration at their lack of support for my development as a cyclist, I went searching for a shop or a group that I could ride with. I found, on that fateful day that I decided to chase the boys in their team practice, a shop most appropriately named You Can. I ventured in and they enthusiastically offered to train me and support me as an athlete. The catch, however, is that I have to leave the Giant Store. This hurt, and it was not an easy choice to make, but I decided in the moment that I would do it. There is no other way for me to chase this dream. Out of politeness and respect for everything they have done for me, I went to talk to the manager at Giant. He was understanding. He’s a good guy. He’s very dear to me. As we were talking I said to him, “Lately, all I can think of, all I want to do is ride my bike. In the last year of my contract I should be working hard to bolster my resume for my impending job search, but instead I am riding, even taking shortcuts at work in order to have more time to ride. The reality is, no matter how successful I am at my job, I could win the Nobel Prize for all it matters to me, there is nothing that will comfort me if I don’t find out how fast, how far, how hard I can ride. There is simply nothing that I would regret more than not chasing this dream right here and right now.”

My friend was understanding, supportive even. “Well, it’s not a big deal. Somehow things will work out,” he said to me.

I have to trust that. I have to believe that somehow things will work out. There’s just no other way to do it.

*alliteration is also funny and not appropriate. I will not apologize for my alliteration.

Team Practice?

I’ve been very angry lately. I’m frustrated and there are people who I would sell my soul for (not really) who could help me and they don’t. So my frustration has morphed into anger.

Today I was very, very angry. I rode angry miles at 6am this morning to meet some boys who don’t really care if I ride with them or not, but prefer to say they care while secretly hoping I never actually do ride with them because girls are a nuisance when you’re busy comparing the size of your penis.

I knew that my entire plan was a hopeless endeavor from the start, so I laid in bed for 48minutes waivering on whether or not I was actually going to go through with it.

The anger won out. I could not go back to sleep no matter how hard I tried. In a record time of 7 minutes I was out of bed, into my cycling spandex, and out the door to meet the boys. I was late. It didn’t really matter because I didn’t actually know where to meet them. I just knew it was somewhere on the river and that I had been there before. I was just hoping that I would spot their jerseys and figure it out. I did. They all saw me, but no one recognized me. So I just spun around and tagged on to the back of the peloton. They were confused. Who the fuck is this? Do we ignore her? Him? Do we let him (her?) follow along? I was too angry to say good morning to any of them. I just rode. I knew I wouldn’t make it far before they dropped me so in all honesty I felt greatings were a waste of my precious oxygen and passed on them.

Eventually someone recognized me. It didn’t change anything.

I lasted about 17minutes before they dropped me for real. It was all I could do to hang on to the back of their pack between stop lights, but on the second hill my legs were already done. I lost the draft and never recovered. As best I could I kept an eye on them up the road from me. I figured I would follow them as far as I could, but I lost them when they turned left and disappeared before I could get to the intersection.

I stood there for a while not sure what to do. Eventually I decided to plot my own course and see if maybe I didn’t get too lost. Maybe I would be lucky and catch them on the return trip. Technically they posted their route on the facebook group, but I can’t use Microsoft Silverlight on my smartphone so I couldn’t open the link. So I made it up.

At the peak of some mountain in Kanagawa prefecture that wasn’t the one I was supposed to climb but I made like a dozen wrong turns so who the fuck knows where I was supposed to be anyway, I stopped at a Lawson for some fuel. And then I sat down on the curb and cried.

I cried for my sorry hopeless situation. I am a female. My heart is no more female than it is male, but my body is a female. And I have no playmates. I exist in this void where the women are afraid to play with me, but I’m not strong enough to play with the men. I am alone. Utterly and completely peerless.

I cried for my pathetic inability to make friends.

I cried for my loneliness.

I cried for my wasted years. I am well into my thirties now and I have always wanted to be a professional athlete but never has anyone ever believed I could do it. Now I feel like I am too late, but at the same time I’m also too old to give a shit. Pathetic.

I cried because no one takes me seriously. No one believes I can do it. No one believes I want to do it. No one understands that my soul needs to ride, and to ride hard. No one appreciates how I am suffocating from lack of expression of this fiery need to fucking fly.

When I was done crying, my body chilled from the altitude and the quickly intensifying wind, I climbed back onto my baby Pikuro and wobbled back out into the road.

I didn’t make it to the peak the boys had ridden to. I was 18km off course and exhausted. I rode home.

It was a hell of a ride. 80+km and 1300m of climbing. I did it in under 6 hours including stopping for lunch and various episodes of losing my way. The boys were only scheduled for 75km. I think that’s not too shabby.

No, I think that’s amazing.

I’m amazing. I’m fucking strong, fucking sexy, fucking stubborn…

and fucking lonely. Because for some reason none of that is enough for anyone to want to play with me.


Let’s All Compete Ourselves to Death

We are taught to live with “the goal of being competitive so we can make a living.

Does anyone ever stop to wonder if all this competition is wholly necessary in our world? We can’t all be competitive in the meaning used above. Being competitive isn’t just an attitude or feeling here, it’s directly linked to success. Being competitive here specifically means being better than most of your peers. By its very definition, we can’t all be competitive, so what does it mean when we insist that this is the way to design our societies?

In reading this article I was reminded of my PE teacher back in high school. We only had to take one class of physical education in the entire four years I went to high school and the teacher/coach took it upon himself to give us a pep talk about our lives. In classic form, with his foot on the chair and his body draped loomingly casual over his knee, he tells us, “These are the best four years of your life. Don’t waste them by taking naps. You’ll nap in the afternoon, then you will stay up late because you slept too much. Then you will oversleep your alarm because you stayed up late, and the cycle repeats. Push through the tired! Get up and get out and DO something! My athletes are all tough…” I don’t remember what he said after that. I was too hung up on the terrifying notion that high school was the best my life was ever going to get, and that some people didn’t understand that naps were themselves a valid activity to spend the afternoon on.

Why should high school be the best four years of our lives? I think, now that I am what people call an adult, that my PE teacher was making the critical grass is greener error. High school, unlike adulthood, does not have 30-year mortgages to pay, jobs to clock in and out of, bosses that are never pleased with your performance, kids that always need your attention and never shut up. In high school, you are young and your life is ahead of you. Your body is resilient, you are full of potential, you are forgiven for your mistakes on account of you being “just a teenager”, and your job, which is to attend class and do your homework, carries no responsibility whatsoever. To the teacher, high school kids just look like a bunch of brats who get to hang out with their friends, smoke pot, and get doted on by their parents all day, insulating them from all the harsh realities of “real life.”

But again, I ask, why should real life be so harsh? Why should coming of age be a burden? Why must it be that when we are young we have our parents and our teachers to fight for us and care for us, but when we are grown we should be abandoned and left to fend for ourselves?

The belief that being competitive is the only way to survive in this world is simply the other facet of the resignation that life is harsh. But it doesn’t have to be that way, does it? It is a choice we make together as a people.

As an economist, I am familiar with the argument: Inequality and competition are necessary to fuel economic growth. However, even as some people are losing relative to others, it is not actually a bad thing on an objective level because the growth we achieve raises the quality of living of everybody. Moreover, if you try to reduce competition or inequality by redistributing wealth or making laws that prevent people from getting profits or wages that are too different from each other, you will destroy the desire for people to make progress and the economy will stagnate. Therefore the harshness of life is both a necessary and sufficient condition for economic.

The thing that really bothers me, though, is that this is not even true. Recent research has shown that happiness correlates with income only up to a certain level (slightly above the average income level of a community) and that the extremely rich can be just as thinly spread as the moderately poor. Millionaires have been quoted saying outrageous things like “4 million dollars just doesn’t go as far as it used to…” Then there is the blockheaded insistence that bloated bonus packages for top level management are the just and necessary compensation for their entrepreneurship, skill, and willingness to bear the risks of success and failure in the name of economic progress. When stakes are very high, experiments have shown that people perform worse than when stakes are medium or low. The explanation is that high stakes means high pressure and every human, no matter how strong we like to believe we are, has a pressure threshold above which we start to crack.

Economic research, despite what we want to believe, does not support the notion that more money is sufficient to motivate people to innovate or risk new business endeavors. At the same time, is it even necessary? In other words, even if at some point more money cannot induce people to try harder or perform better, are there ways to motivate people without just increasing their income? The answer to this second question is yes. Throughout history great artists and inventors created their works not because of the material rewards they were getting from them, but in spite of the failure of their work to generate income. Two famous examples are Edgar Allen Poe and Nikolai Tessla. Both men are indisputable titans of their fields, and yet both men spent their lives in relative obscurity and suffered their work being stolen, plagiarized, and ridiculed. It was not until after their deaths that their true genius was appreciated. So why would these men persevere? The answer is that it exists within each human being the power and the drive to create.

The “starving artist” archetype is not an archetype for no reason.

So, why, I ask, why is it that we hold so desperately to this notion that harsh competition is the only way to design our lives? Even the economists who brought us this idea in the first place are tearing it down again. Ironically, the authors responsible for contradicting the sacredness of the competitive claim were merely attempting to further their own careers through new, innovative and competitive research. The master’s tools?

I often write as if I know the answers. Often I can see the environment, the underlying infrastructures, that makes otherwise perplexing behavior of humans seem perfectly rational and understandable. When I can, I try to elucidate those structures in the hopes that a better understanding will enable the empathy we need to improve our world. However, in this case, I am at a loss. Why do we cling so desperately to a notion of the world that causes us pain, despair, and a rotting of our spirit inside our still living bodies? Why do we resign ourselves to inaction as all the beauty and joy in our lives is sacrificed on the altar of economic progress? I DON’T KNOW!

I don’t know why we worship competition. I do know, though, that there is another way. I know that we as humans have access to something greater than the scraps that are thrown to us from the rich and the powerful on high. Our world is big enough and, despite all we have done to it, still healthy enough to support all of us in abundant life. Rather than design our lives around the act of getting enough money to pay the bills, we could design our lives around to goal of abundant life. Instead of fearing nature, we could venture out into it to collect our food as it grows wild in the earth, rather than buying it prepackaged and marinated in synthetic chemicals in a grocery store. Instead of spending our hard earned money on brand name items that we wear as a symbol of our success, we could buy products that give our bodies immediate physical comfort. Insteand of blaming ourselves for not being competitive enough, we could acknowledge that the rules are against all of us and instead work together to achieve the happiness that seems to elude us as individuals.

Living in perpetual competition amounts to accepting that their is not enough for all of us, and it is a sour deal. There is no rest for the competitive lest they fall behind. There is no enjoying the spoils of victory when they could be invested into even more competitiveness. Worst of all, when we are always competing, always banking our joy on the outcomes of our endeavors, we are not enjoying the process that is being alive along the way. Humans were never intended to live in perpetual competition. Even hyenas find time to play.









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