The Pinnacle of Freedom

I noticed that my big girl pants had shuffled to the back of the closet and were gathering dust, so I decided to leave my newfound comfort zone and head out into the world again. I have wanted to go to Tokyo for a long time, probably because my mom was born there and so I have grown up hearing her talk about it, so after plenty of hesitation, I decided to just go for it. Besides selling most of what I own and moving to a microscopic island in the middle of the Pacific Ocean, I think this is the pinnacle of freedom for me. I remember years ago realizing that if I had to pick a single word for what is most important to me, freedom is the one. It seems that not long after that my cage began encroaching on my soul. But then I realized that I do in fact control my life, and that I can make choices to be free. So here I am. I didnt wait for someone to travel with, I didn’t wait for the perfect timing, and I didnt wait to learn a language or have a plan. I just did it. I just hopped a plane and travelled to one of the biggest cities in the world all by myself. And it feels great. Better than great even. It feels like freedom.

Perhaps living on a spiritual and highly superstitious island has fostered my already sign-seeking nature, but I had a good feeling about this trip from the get-go. It was during the flight to Tokyo, however, that I really recieved my first tangible sign of goodness. I sat next to two japanese brothers, across the aisle sat their parents and little sister. With a distinct language barrier, there was little talking. At one point one of the boys asked me if I knew “B’z”, and I never really did figure out what he was asking. Regardless, towards the end fo the flight, the boys pulled out a handful of keychains and handed me one from Guam. They thanked me – for what, I don’t know. At the end of the flight the parents also thanked me “very much,” again, for what I don’t know. But I thought, shoot, if i can sit and watch the in flight movie and mind my own business and get thanked for it, I must be going to a pretty nice country.

When I arrived at Narita, I knew my plan was to take the subway to Tokyo. I didnt know what that would entail, but I had some vague directions I had found from another traveller online. After the nice lady at the tourist desk highlighted about 3 different routes for me, I went to the next desk to try to figure out more. Even though I speak literally NO Japanese, and the people I asked for help seemed to speak no English, I somehow was guided successfully to my 2nd to last subway stop. But OH WOW, that’s when the confusion really took hold. You see, up until the Yarakucho Station, most of the signs were also in English. But when it came time to change trains, I literally walked in circles. I finally went back to the man with the train conductor hat and tried to communicate my complete and utter confusion. He motioned for me to wait, went to the back room, came back with a young associate who proceeded to guide me all the way out of the station, across the street, and down several flights of stairs to the other station. He helped me buy a ticket and made sure I knew the rest of the way. All along the way, people have been more than nice and more than helpful.

As for the rest of my trip, time will tell. I am sure I will find plenty to do – and my friend Issei will surely help as well. Mostly, I am just so excited to end 2009 on such a bold, brave note. My resolution for this year was to live outside my comfort zone – I had no idea that simple thought would lead me to the realization of so many dreams. It really is true that the thoughts you focus on will become reality….

3 thoughts on “The Pinnacle of Freedom

  1. I was slightly disappointed when I went to Germany/Poland and didn't have that out of touch feeling (everyone it seems speaks multiply languages, English being one of them). How else could we relate to what many experience here. Communication is so essential, but as you noticed…there are many ways to communite beside our English words!

  2. it's so true, Sue. I have been thinking about that this whole trip – i can't imagine speaking only an asian language in the u.s. Not only because of how difficult it would be, but also because of the attitude so many americans have regarding "if you're going to come to our country, you better speak our language"….

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