I’m entering crunch time. Or, rather, the possibility of crunch time. It’s November, and it’s time to book a flight.

I’ll be going home for the holidays, spending a month or two stateside deciding what to do next. In the interim, I can clarify my goals for China, check out my route more intentionally, and apply for other visas to future countries. And cook all kinds of vegan mac’n’cheese, banana ice cream, and new Japanese favorites. And visit friends. And read this book and see that show. And cut my hair. And write. And sew. And-

WAIT. Oh, you sneaky brain. You sneaky, sneaky thing.

It’s a beautiful morning in Nagoya, and so far, I’ve logged into facebook twice, gmail twice, and googled ferries, flights, and terrain in China into multi-tab mayhem. Timetables, ticket prices, bank account balance, travel reviews, can I bring my bike on the plane- my mind races through every specific I can think of to investigate. I’m flipping between webpages like a cinematic hacker, eyes flicking, fingers tapping out ideas and questions at lightning speed. I’m looking for the magic code that will make everything come together.

I looked up weather in Nagoya, even. The open window suggests that it is sunny and warm, which is exactly what the screen told me.

With the possibility of a deadline, a flight that I need to be on, I have gotten snagged by future-mindedness. It’s easy to do, and most people do it all the time. When to pick up the kids, the groceries, the dog from the vet- to drop off the essay, the paperwork, the borrowed appliance- to cook, clean, wash, shower, work out, etc. I’ve crafted many mental obstacle courses of agendas; ducking overdue fees, scaling application requirements, dodging complications and curveballs. Scheduling becomes its own game, and like most games, the thrill of winning is addictive.

And like most addictions, you say you can stop anytime. You’re choosing the answer the phone, to check the web, to overschedule, because you want to.

And like most addictions, this isn’t really true.

Maybe I’m extrapolating this comparison a bit too far. There are times when scheduling is necessary, and it is indeed hard to take a flight if you haven’t booked one. I haven’t been a parent, so I know that I underestimate the work that goes in to getting everyone where they need to be in a day. The threat of getting fired definitely would make me check my email religiously.

But then, sometimes, you’re researching the weather, and there’s an open window telling you everything you need to know.

In the midst of future planning, of plotting points in China and counting how many days I have to cross South Korea, I actually forgot that I am in Japan right now. Not in Japan in a strategic or mental generality, but in a tangible and felt reality. I go to Kyoto in a few days, then Nara, then Osaka. Rather than appreciating that I will arrive soon and getting on with my morning in Nagoya, I have been calculating when I need to leave Nara to get to the next place, to get to Korea, to get to China.

Be aware that the game of planning is all about getting somewhere, without ever being there. And with that, I’m going to close this blog post and enjoy this warm autumn day with Nanako, because this entry has gotten where it needs to be.