Really going to Japan! / 本当に日本に行く!

This week I bought a one-way ticket to Japan. With the ticket in my hand and the date set, it finally feels like my dream of returning to Japan coming true!

It was five years ago I had come home from my mission in Tokyo to this house. It is paradise here in the summer with the beautiful green trees, wide open sky, and shimmering lakes. Something about leaving again brings back old memories. I loved adventuring on my own through the thick Minnesota forests, and the lazy summer days spent floating on air mattresses and a giant inflatable turtle. On a windy summer day I could skip class, run home, and rig up my windsurf board. (On one occasion I only barely managed to talk my way out of being seriously disciplined when some of the less-than-cool teachers marked me absent. Ironically, the discipline for skipping school would have been suspension.)

I think my favorite part of living here was how my friends would just show up whenever the weather was nice. I guess living in the default hangout is one way to guarantee a social life. Waterskiing until dusk should have been enough for us to run out of energy, but more often than not, Scott, Erik, Maria and I would continue trying to outdo each other well into the night as we swam our way halfway around the lake.

When no one was around, I’d lay on the dock and read. I rarely made it further than a page or two before I was caught up in a thought. I must have spent more time looking out over the lake dreaming of what my future would be like than I did actually reading. I remember one night I found myself alone on the dock looking up at the stars. That particular night was particularly still without even the slightest breeze, so the entire lake had a become a mirror reflecting the starry sky. Laying on the edge of the dock, I observed that no matter which direction I turned all I could see were stars. It was as if I were peacefully floating along in my swimsuit through the milky way. Life felt limitless and, at the same time, as though it required nothing more from me than to lay there dreaming in my swimsuit.

I try to remember that moment when the world seemed so calm, limitless, and inviting. I love to imagine traveling through space to new worlds and having experiences like no one has ever had before. While it certainly possible that I have spent far too many hours day-dreaming up a world made just for me, it was important for me to understand my deeper desires.

For me, Japan has been that new world where everything is different and the experiences are all my own. Even the everyday experiences of buying groceries, spending time with friends, and looking out over the night sky have been adventures. Japan is unique and special to me and they treat me as though I were too. (I mean in the non-retarded way–most of the time!) Japan has become the world that I can believe with all my heart was made just for me.

Now more than ever I can vividly remember how sad I was to leave behind me the unique new world I had discovered and fallen in love with. Five years ago this summer I was looking up at the same starry sky from the same Minnesota lakeshore. The stars seemed to shine more brightly and magnificently than ever, but they seemed forever out of my reach. I felt so out of place and though I tried to seem as happy as possible to be home again, I would often quietly escape to my room to cry by myself. Eventually I found the courage and determination to resolve myself to finding a way back to Japan. In that resolution I felt a strong feeling of reassurance that not only would I make it back to Japan someday, but that there was some very important purpose in doing so. That summer, I spent traded time waterskiing and windsurfing, so I could study Japanese. I must have made several hundred flashcards. That was probably a little crazy and my family certainly thought so (and didn’t mind telling me so). But I kept up with it and while many of my friends all but completely forgot Japanese, I was able to maintain my abilities in most areas and improve them in some.

Though I never gave up on my determination, I really started to doubt that I would ever have a chance to go back. Over the past few years, a number of my aspirations did not culminate and I started to think that maybe I have been too ambitious. Despite it all, however, I really am going to Japan! As I think about the adventures that lie ahead of me, I cannot help but wonder what other aspirations may actually be within my grasp and what dreams may come true.











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