As I was rounding the corner on my way home from HPAC, I had a rare foreigner sighting. He was a middle-aged gentleman, an American judging by his accent, speaking to someone in English on his cell phone. It was one of those moments when I ceased to be in Japan. He had grayed facial hair and a convivial smile, "Oh great! And how are you getting along with....?" And then I biked away. I imagined it to be "medical school" or "the new puppy" or some other topic of such nature. Perhaps it was that I could understand the combination of smile and words, or maybe just the posture and way that he walked, but there was something in his demeanor that was so comfortingly familiar. I see foreigners every so often, but rarely are they of such age or so open in their body language, facial expression, and voice. Usually they seem to be grappling with conformity in Japan. Maybe having an English cell phone helps.
This man gave me absolutely nothing, probably didn't even notice me, but I received quite a lot from him, just from his demeanor, from something to which he was giving little or no conscious thought. There are so many ways to live. And we can pass them along to others, just by existing. It's possible to be different from what is around us, from what is suggested by our circumstances.
I think it's been a good experience to be in a place where I feel different, and yet not wrong. I think it takes a lot to trust that. And I appreciate any instance of verification from others, such as this gentleman just talking to a friend on his cell phone.