Pilgrimages are addictive. Once completed the 88 temples around the Chita Peninsula, I did a second pilgrimage around the same peninsula but linking different locations, now 33 temples dedicated to Kannon bodhisattva, the archetype of compassion. Afterwards I did another pilgrimage within the urban territory of Nagoya, through which I discovered some fascinating temples.
Due to pilgrimages, retreats and the time spent at home reading sutras and meditating, the interest in my job began to decrease and eventually disappeared. By the end of my third year in Japan, I was seriously considering my career. Did I want to be a scientist for the rest of my life? Providence sent me a signal.
One day I was required by the university’s offices because my name had blocked the central computer that coordinated the payment of the salaries to all the employees. Don’t yo think that’s weird? Apparently, the dash that connected my last names (in Spain we all have two last names, from the father and the mother) got stuck in between the circuits of the software, and the only way to fix it was by removing it. Believe it or not, I was supposed to go through all the bureaucracy of the first day (in Japan that’s a lot) changing my name to another version in which the little dash did not appear. (By the way, this did not cause any problem for three years, since my arrival). To fix the matter took me the whole morning, but can you believe that that very same afternoon I received a call from the same office to tell me that now my middle name had caused the same problem? I could not believe it.
But bureaucracy in Japan is inflexible, so I had to redo everything again, visit to the bank included, and for the same reason. Well, when in the evening I finally arrived to my working place I found a totally unexpected scene. A professor with who I had had barely any contact, precisely that day, he needed me madly, and since I was absent dealing with the name thing, he got upset.
All of the sudden, and in such a bizarre way, my name could not be digested by the computers, and myself could not be digested by a professor.
I got the message, it was time to say goodbye to science. That night I wrote and submitted my resignation, effective by the end of next month, just three years after my arrival in Japan.