It's 5 pm here which I think means that it's about 3 am in Cincinnati. I got in ahead of time (Delta is definitely the most punctual airline thus far) and have found my room in my hotel, complete with the Japanese toilet and bath. As the woman from the hotel helped me with my two suitcases I realized I forgot to look up tipping practices in Japan, but figured that if she lingered in my room it would indicate that I should tip her. Not so. I'm afraid I may have insulted her, but hopefully she will forgive my misinterpretation of her genuine concern over the temperature in the room.
And everything is in Japanese! Someday I hope to understand the written and spoken language around me, but I know that as much as I'd like to make sense of this new world and to interact with it and its people more fully, I will not be able to undo my understanding once I have it. This is a sacred time- the time of not knowing, of not understanding. It will linger forever, I'm sure, but never be so real as it is today. I already inadvertently learned my first Kanji character, the one for "day." It just happens that there is order in this buzzing world and that I will start to piece it together, despite my best intentions to remain ignorant. Curiosity gets the better of us. And maybe someday I will speak and read Japanese.
The mountains around Osaka were beautiful from the plane. And like the language, I was aware of looking with a new set of eyes, looking in a way that I don't so naturally muster as I drive down the highway in America. Something sparkles in the shape of the leaves, there is something magical about the entrance to a bathroom. Seeing the world with new eyes. Perhaps this is what I love about being in a place where I don't know the language: novelty and awareness are highly saturated.
How do we capture this sense of novelty? A great book, a good workout, an inspiring human being, a beautiful view on a hike- throughout life things touch us to feel a heightened sense of living. And how can we be alive more fully in the spaces between these privileged occurrences? I'm excited by this new world and all the possibilities it possesses. I've always been interested in novel things. Yet I'm aware of all the things I left behind me, still unturned. All the spaces within my old stomping ground that I never touched, the people that I only got to know so much, the world that become everyday too quickly. In the coming days and months of living in a world so novel from my home, I hope to observe "novelty" transition to "commonplace." I have a suspicion that this is impossible, but my hope is that vigilance will keep my eyes open.