The fifth year of sobriety?
The seventh year of attempting to figure out what exactly Dhyāna is.
The beginning of another tour that has me asking who has the answers? (Me!) What the heck is going on here? (Ignorance, Formation, Consciousness, Identity, Sensations, Contact, Perception, Desire, Attachment, Becoming, Birth, Death) When am I going to figure out how to conduct business here? (When I say how I'm to conduct business here.) Where do I stand? (I'd rather sit.) How does this work? (Pretty much how I say it does.) Why didn't the last guy do it differently? (Because he didn't.)
This year I am a total beginner. From the perspective of a zennist, this is not such a bad thing. From the prospective of a professional who is depended on to be the "go too guy" in a critical area, this is a bit intimidating.
But it isn't really that bad. I have gone through this process before and know what needs to be done. It is not too hard to identify what is working and what is not and than effect changes to make things work more efficiently. I'm quite effective at it actually. I just wish everyone was.
As far as I can tell so far, there are no practicing Buddhists on Okinawa. I hope that is a gross misrepresentation of reality. When I first got my orders here I knew there were no temples for foreigners here but I was holding on to some hope that there would be some kind of practice community that I could connect with, even if it were from a different lineage that would have been OK. Mostly what I was looking for was a quiet place to sit, and maybe some new dharma friends.
It has crossed my mind to become a "lay leader" (yes, I'm ordained and so the term lay leader seems a bit off, but the military doesn't recognize that ordination unless you have a Masters degree.) of sorts and provide support to other seekers, but frankly due to the operational tempo and rapid turnover of this unit and it's subordinate elements I don't think that is going to be an option. Right now my own sitting has been providing me with quite enough grist for the mill and I'm not sure how helpful I could be if someone asked for advise on theirs.
But then again, when I think about it, I seem to have a complete lack of existential issues at the moment... That's weird. And I wonder if it might be useful to someone.
Sencha tea, once brewed, will oxidize quickly and the taste will change rapidly from a fresh cup to one that is a bit stale.