I have come to realize how important people are.
Its not like I thought people or relationships were meaningless before, but now I know how much fuller life is with them.
Last night I went with my friend Mary to visit the host mother she stayed with the last time we were in Japan. I had met her host mother on several occasions, and knowing how close Mary and I are, her host mom kindly invited me to have dinner with them.
After a delicious feast of Thai spring rolls, Spanish omelets, pesto chicken, fruits and cheesecake, we sat around her kitchen table sipping tea and catching up on each others lives. Soon into our conversation–as with most conversations I have with Japanese people–we strayed into the realm of relationships.
At first Shinobu-san (Mary’s host mom) was joking around and teasing me that I needed to hurry up and find a boyfriend while I was in Japan this summer. (Along the lines of my previous post, she continuously told me that it would be super easy to find a boyfriend because I was so cute). We were all laughing and joking around–and I jokingly assured her that I would 頑張る and do my best to find a nice Japanese boy.
But as we continued to talk, Shinobu-san continued to talk about relationships. She very seriously told us that even if relationships don’t work out or even if people move on, every person you meet in life is important. By meeting people, by being in relationships, by opening ourselves up to new people and opportunities, we can gain knowledge and experiences that shape who we are and what we do.
Shinobu-san went on to say that by forming relationships with Japanese people–whether they be friendships or romantic relationships–will motivate us to learn and use Japanese, motivate us to return to Japan, and open our eyes to possibilities in our futures that we wouldn’t have thought of had we not met those people. And even if the relationship is temporary, because we met that person and had our eyes opened to something new in life, it is a treasured experience.
And as I sat there with Mary listening to Shinobu-san describing this life philosophy to us in Japanese, I found myself agreeing with her. Of course, I don’t think it is necessary for me to find a boyfriend while I am here, but I do believe that the people you meet in life change your perspective and open your eyes to new thoughts and ideas. Coming back from my study abroad experience, I felt like a changed person. I felt like Japan changed me and how I saw the world. But now that I think about it more, I think that it is not Japan itself, but the people I met in Japan who changed me–or maybe more accurately, helped me to expand my universe. Before coming to Japan the number of people in my life was small. I met so many people–honestly I can not even begin to count the number of people I met–and every single one of them forced me to think about my place in life, where I want to be in my future, the things I appreciate in a friend, the things I don’t want from a relationship, the way I interact with others. And in doing that, in reflecting on my life and viewing life from the perspective of another person day after day, my perspective changed. It is not that I stopped caring about things I used to care about, but I found motivation to go after certain things in life. The more people I meet and develop any sort of relationship, the more I understand myself and what is important to me in life.
Now this is not a completely novel idea, and I think to some degree everyone understands how important people and relationships are. But I think it is good for everyone to take time now and again to consciously, deeply think about the people in their lives and how they have been changed or motivated because of those people. So I am incredibly thankful to Mary and Shinobu-san for allowing me the opportunity to reflect on the importance of the people who have been or are currently a part of my life–and also to look forward to the people I will meet in the future.
Thank you for listening to my rambling stream of consciousness…I am not even sure if this post made any sense… >_<
Stay tuned for future adventures! ^_^