There is no connection or movement without vulnerability.
Not studying abroad in high school or university. (People who did or are now doing it, are wayyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy cool.) Why? I was scared; I couldn’t see myself doing it.
My parents prioritized travel, thus exposing me to different culture and countries at a young age.
Journalism. A profession that showed me the worst and best of humanity. I mean the worst, shootings and mothers who knifed their 6-year old daughters and child abusers, and the best — selfless, kind people who were donating their kidney’s to strangers, who were fighting life’s biggest battles — cancer and other diagnoses with death sentences — who were doing mission work instead of taking a vacation, high schoolers with big, uncrushable dreams.
Quite literally, I was overcome with inspiration. It made me want to do something like that. Find something big — that I wasn’t going to back away from until I got it.
Japan was that. It was something I wasn’t going to back away from.
Sure. I’d gotten a job after university. Sure, I dated men I had set my sights on. Sure, I did what I wanted to most of the time. I’m not saying it was easy — I’m saying it was familiar. They were things people do.
And moreover, because I had lived in one state my entire life, I felt that the opportunities (which I am grateful for) chose me, instead of me chasing them. For me, it was a priority to see what else there was.
I never expected to move to a foreign country. What is different about it, is it wasn’t something that people in my reality did. Until, I reconnected with someone who did.
Inspiration isn’t showing someone you did something. It’s showing someone they can do it, too.
I was lucky enough to know someone who moved to Japan. It was part of his plan. He showed me an opportunity.
I wish I could tell you it was always part of my plan, but it wasn’t. I was in a terrible place when I applied to go to Japan. Yet was actually in a pretty amazing place when I was accepted. To leave all that behind felt psychotic at the time. At times, and for different reasons, it still does.
When people ask me if I love Japan, I want to ask them if they love where they are living?
Do we take that for granted?
I did love Japan when I got here, and that love has grown from infatuation to appreciation. Because I sure as hell do not love Japan all the time. Exactly the same, I do not love America all the time.
It was easy to love Japan from afar, much like how we love a celebrity. We get to take the liberties to change them into what we see, we we want, what we need, never having a chance to actually experience it for ourselves.
Conversely, living in America, I could see so many flaws while it was all too easy to take for granted the amazing parts. I see that only now, as my perspective inevitably widened.
In a very real way, moving away from America made me more American. Which is funny because I think so many people think that when you love something you hold onto it forever. If you love America, why would you want to go anywhere else? If you love Japan, why would you want to go anywhere else?
I know my love for Japan and for America are becoming more deep as I broaden my experience of both — and of other places and people. Loving one of these doesn’t take away from the other.
According to Plato, love is wisdom. I wanted to but no matter how hard I tried, I couldn’t understand this when I read it nearly 10 years ago.
I’m starting to realize without wisdom, our love is shallow. Merely a reflection pond compared to what could grow into an ocean.
When our only experience is a reflection pool, we can be satisfied to call it the ocean.