21 Dec: Some colleagues came over last night for dinner and we slept a little late. Thought I’d sleep late because today is a holiday. Switched off the 6AM alarm in my mobile but didn’t know how to switch off my body’s internal alarm and at 6AM I was wide awake, as usual. My family tells me its because I’m an old man (as if I needed reminding). Got up, looked outside and saw that it was still dark. Decided to open the computer and check my mail. Nothing new, except for the usual spam. Mostly the same ones selling Viagra and various methods of increasing ‘sizes’. Dunno where they got the idea that I needed their products 🙂 As usual, I do a quick scan to make sure there are no friendly mails that have been directed there and then immediately delete them. My mailbox says ‘Hooray! No more spams’ or words to that effect. (I checked in an hour or so later and I again see the same offers making themselves at home in my spam box. I briefly wonder if, indeed, there’s a message here somewhere telling me that I do need these products. I shake my head and delete them again.)
I sense the dawn creeping up behind me from the window and go out to our balcony to stretch and say hello to another day. It’s freezing out there. Not a cloud in sight and the sun’s coming out in the horizon. I look to my left and I see Mt. Fuji in the distance, snowcapped and shining in the distance, silently beckoning me. I looked around and sense something different. I can’t place what it is immediately. Then I look at the parked cars below our balcony and notice that all their windows are covered in white. I look at the roofs and see a fine cover of white, starting to reflect the rising sun. We are going to have a white Christmas, after all, I think, my hopes suddenly rising.
My watch says its 7AM now. I go in, put on my jogging shoes, my track pant and jacket. I step out into the bright, chilly morning. I turn left from our gate and begin my usual morning jog. I decide to take my ‘weekend route’ which goes up a steep 200m incline before leveling off at a crossing which offers three directions. I turn left and continue, my breathing now labored and hard from the invigorating climb, the level road a welcome change from the steep incline. I feel my heavy breathing starting to stabilize and my body and feet starting to get into the rhythm, as I get into ‘the zone’. I look at my watch. 10 minutes have passed. I see the left turn ahead where the road goes down an incline which will take me to a right turn and another stretch of level road. I welcome the downhill jog, less demanding but equally invigorating in a different way.
I pass by old men and women taking out their trash or going for their morning walks. The fact that its only the oldies who are up so early crosses my mind. I jog pass them, invigorated by the fresh morning air, feeling young and energized. I notice that my steps become firmer and faster as I pass them and I suddenly realize that I am subconsciously showing off. I imagine them thinking ‘what a jackass and a showoff!’ and slow down a little. Then I realize that I am hardly a specimen of youth and fitness with my slight paunch and thinning crowning glory. I see the next incline ahead and realize that I am sweating now, despite the chill in the air. I wipe the sweat off my forehead and concentrate on the climb and next stretch of level road which will take me to another downhill stretch before I wind my way back home.
Without a cloud in sight, the sun reveals itself in all its glory, reflecting light from the white frost still clinging to the roofs of the small, typical Japanese houses that I pass by. I reach my destination – the bridge over a small river with crystal clear water happily gurgling its way to join the slightly bigger Tama river that marks the boundary between the Tokyo suburb where we now stay and the city of Kawasaki. I do some stretching exercises near the riverside as I stop to catch my breath. I look at the many fish swimming in the river and clearly visible in the crystal clear water. Some of the fish are at least one foot long, just daring me or anyone to catch them, and I feel my hands itch for the bamboo pole fishing rods we used to make and fish with when we were kids. I remind myself once again that I must really go and buy myself a fishing rod. I look at my watch. 25 minutes have passed. I decide to jog back.
I look around, invigorated by the jog and the morning chill, the natural beauty of my surroundings, the clear blue sky, the promise of snow in the air, a wonderful wife and family (still comfortably in bed on this chilly winter morning) and I know that I am blessed. And I thank God who has always been there for me.
I jog back, pass the small gardens growing winter vegetables some of which still retain the white cover of white frost now slowly disappearing in the early morning sunshine. My mind jogs back to the first ‘White Christmas’ we had in Milan more than 10 years ago. Memories of that Christmas which was made more wonderful and magical because it was ‘white’ have remained. I finally learned the real meaning of the song ‘White Christmas’ and every time I hear the song during this season, I can now dream and wish along with the singer for a ‘white Christmas…..just like the ones I used to know…’ I jog on, smiling because the chilly morning air tells me that we will be having a white Christmas this year.
So here’s wishing everyone the best and happiest Christmas this year.