What I’ve Learned From Japan…(Pt.2)
What I’ve Learned From Japan…(Pt.2)
It’s been a while since I wrote Part 1 and although only a few weeks have passed, I have seen and learned so much. One of the benefits of this journey has been challenging my previous viewpoints and freeing my mind to new ways of thinking.
I’ve Given Up on Coffee
It just offing sucks here in Japan. Now there are a number of people who may have called me a coffee snob before now and they were right (as I have always maintained, if I’m going to pay $4 for a coffee, it’s going to be bloody perfect), but there have been times here where (at the risk of continuing to sound absolutely absurd) I would have killed for a cup of black Tim Hortons brew. It’s not that coffee is not readily available, in a nation where people regularly work 14 hour days and have perfected the art of “train sleeping”, a caffeine fix is only a vending machine away. It’s just that pretty much everyone drinks instant coffee or some permutation in hot or cold form out of a vending machine and it is just awful. So I’ve given up on coffee, that was a part of my past life I’ll say, tea is where its at in Asia, get into it!
The Beauty of Slooowing Down
I think its safe to say that we’ve both come to the understanding of what we need to do to try and gain some semblance of normality in this crazy lifestyle we’ve chosen. And while I continue to try and fight it, feeling like each day I need to do something “productive”, we are not on a two week vacation and with that in mind we simply cannot see EVERYTHING, even in the period of a month. We also need down time. Fighting the crowds and fighting the lack of familiarity can be in a word, exhausting. Certainly not asking for anyone to feel sorry for us – but just for a minute think about the number of choices you make in a day… knowing where to go to find your groceries and how to navigate the store, that your bed will always have that comfortable reliable feeling at the end of the day and how to get home are all feelings that have their perks. We’ve traded that all in but we can’t forget that with all of the stimulation that a new environment brings, you need to clock in some down time to decompress and let it all soak in. So on days where we spend most of the day holed up in our hostel room writing and researching (or maybe even watching Battlestar Galactica?) I have to remind myself that these are not lost days and that I’m not in a race to check off visiting the most tourist attractions.
Detachment and Value of Having NO Expectations
We met beautiful Yuka in a line-up to see the Golden Pavillion in Kyoto, as a University student studying English she graciously offered to give us a free guided tour of the grounds and explain the significance of all of the features of the famous Zen Buddhist grounds, we learned SO much!
One of the principles of Buddhism is to remove attachment from all things – be it belongings, a specific outcome or even a loved one. It’s said that once you do this you can truly be free. I have a VERY long way to go on my journey of detachment but one incredibly powerful thing I am continuing to learn is to remove expectations for specific outcomes. I could swear that saying “Tonight is going to be the best night ever!!” is the absolute kiss of doom for a night out and similarly for me to expect to be hoisted upon the shoulders of the welcome committee (ok maybe not that far, but a couple smiles would have sufficed), was ridiculous. The beauty of it is that the best days are almost always the ones we didn’t plan.
Impromptu karaoke at a totally random bar in Kyoto with our fabulous new Aussie friends we met in Tokyo and then serendipitously “ran into” at the Kyoto train station. We’re singing Hey Jude with the bar owner, can’t wait to see these guys again!
Damn, I’m Lucky!!
We found this statue in the Financial District in Tokyo and I was just taken by it, no idea what the inscription says, but I love it! Someone once told me a marriage isn’t always 50/50 and it’s true, sometimes you have to carry a little extra and sometimes you need your load to be a little lighter.
Can you think of someone you could spend a year with, with virtually no time apart?? I met that person more than eleven years ago and as much as I’ve said in the past that I appreciate my ‘alone time’, I had my doubts as to how I would be able to deal with my newfound lack of independence. I can say now emphatically after over a month together nearly every moment, I’m just the luckiest girl. I can say that I have the absolute best travel partner, my husband. Who else would agree to do something as batshit crazy as pulling an all-nighter to go see a tuna auction at 5AM?!! Even after eleven years, this opportunity has allowed me to learn new and wonderful things about the person he is and remind me of the beautiful instinctive connection you can have with another. Just as I know when he’s getting concerned about getting things done in time or if his blood sugar is getting low, he knows when I need to slow it down and take things apart, watch a stupid movie and eat ice cream together. I couldn’t ask for anything more. I heard an amazing quote the other day, “When you let go of who you think you are, you can become the person you want to be”. Already this journey has given me an opportunity to shake up old patterns and really question if old habits and ways of thinking are truly serving me. Unfortunately oftentimes life gets away on us, when we’re children someone tells you that you’re competitive or a perfectionist and at that moment our life can head down a completely different direction than we, within our heart of hearts wanted. We’re seldom given the opportunity to challenge that path or say outright that we’ve changed our minds and want something different without someone dismissively telling us that we’re ‘just going through a phase’ or perhaps even telling us we’re crazy. All I know now is that I feel incredibly fortunate to have so much love and support in my life that I have the opportunity to let my heart chart the course. Can you think of a time when you questioned what you thought you wanted and decided to take a different path? Much love, Alyse
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