A cousin of mine (narrows it down to about 70 people) messaged me, asking a few various questions, and one question she (narrows it down to about 50... Uncle Paul didn't help with these ratios) asked was, "What's the hardest part about living in Japan?". It was a really good, basic question, with a plethora of answers but one I had yet to address on The Otherside. Maybe I should write about the great things about living here first, but I'll write about my favorite things here in Japan soon. I believe the hardest things here in Japan are really blessings I just happen to be farther away from right now.
There are definitely the small things, many of which I took for granted living stateside but now realize how great they were, the list starts with the most underrated utility device, the garbage disposal, which I haven't seen in Japan. This list also includes my car. Japanese people ask if I just have a bike in America and it makes me laugh. I also miss my road bike, mexican food, American pizza, the ability to easily communicate with people around me, sometimes experiencing loneliness, even worse, experiencing loneliness when I'm surrounded by many people, being called scary by little kids because I have blue eyes haha
***Side note: surprisingly enough, Japan makes really great Asian food, I know, right?? but the western food can be hit and miss, Pizza is mostly a miss, especially when they combine their Asian cuisine with pizza. I'll let your imagination wonder on this one, but you can drift pretty far and still be generally correct
I also miss the ability to sit down, relax and watch basketball and football on TV, and to play basketball. I also miss the running community I had in Oklahoma City working at Red Coyote Running. I enjoyed meeting, talking and listening to many people, and not having to strain or struggle to understand what they were saying, as we spoke a common language (except for those customers who said they only ran in New Balance as they picked up a Nike shoe). This is where the list blends from the more fickle things to the more important, the harder things to live without. I miss my closest friends at Red Coyote, Jeremy, Nick and Tim, who I could sit in his car and talk forever.
I have so many friends I could talk about anything with. It's amazing how many people I am blessed to have truly deep relationships with. This list includes a lot of close family members as well. I live alone in Japan and in Oklahoma I had a tremendous friend and room mate, Casey, to live with. We could talk about anything. There are so many more. It can be especially hard when friends and relatives living in the states are going through important times, special moments like weddings or really trying times like sickness or death. Sometimes, I feel so isolated from friends and family going through tough times. I'm truly thankful for prayer, that our Father intercedes for us and does so much more than we can imagine.
The one, who is the hardest to not be around is my brother Michael. It's bittersweet because I'm blessed we're so close, it may have been different 5 or 6 years ago. Honestly, I look back at the last couple of years, and I've done some pretty cool stuff, but the most enjoyable moments have been, a handful of concerts we saw together (going to Of Montreal was amazing), the big games on TV, Hawaii, just eating with Michael
I'll never forget the sadness of leaving Michael and Laura's apartment, watching the elevator doors close at 2:30 am, having to swallow the decision to leave for a foreign place so far away. It makes me wonder all the more, how I made the decision to leave for a foreign unknown.
I don't want to make this sound depressing, it's not and it's true, and I would like to keep this blog as true as possible. As Paul says while in Jail in Philippians 4, "I've learned by now to be quite content whatever the circumstances...Whatever I have, whatever I am, I can make it through anything in the one who makes me who I am". In Christ alone we have contentment.
There are a lot of amazing things; blessings I've been blindsided by and some new things I'm really excited about out on this side of the world, I will post about those really soon.
I wrote about this because I thought it would interest those of you reading about me over here. Also, the hardest things teach us where exactly our contentment resides.
***On a light note, I'm learning the only thing better than making a little Japanese 2nd grader (playfully) angry at you is making a little Japanese first grader angry at you. Today I ignored the little ones telling me to play dodgeball and instead kept pretending I thought they were saying to play basketball, so that's what I did. Ended up playing a version of basketball and got quite the crowd chasing me around, pretending they weren't having fun. I guess the pretending show goes both ways.