Back in March I was in my condo in downtown Portland, sampling Devemdra Bandhardt’s album Mala online through NPR. I had intended to download it, but somehow forgot to do so until this past December.
I finally listened to the album for the first time while driving on the highway to Kobe.
As I was speeding through traffic, going 120 km/h, I realized that I never imagined I would be driving in Japan, let alone on the highway. And I realized I was doing something I never thought I could do, never thought I would do. I thought I knew my strengths and weaknesses. I thought I knew what I could and couldn’t do. But doing something I never even considered doing opened up a new realm of possibilities for me.
I am capable of doing more than I imagined.
It's a very empowering realization, and one that I could only have reached as the result of living here in Japan. Living here challenged me in a way that I would not have been able to challenge myself.
That’s the beauty of living somewhere instead of traveling. When someone lives in a foreign country they are forced to do things they don’t want to do. They are forced to be challenged. But when someone travels to a foreign country, they can pay for comfort, they can pay to have all their expectations met, they can pay not to be challenged.
But then they don’t get to listen to Mala while speeding down a Japanese highway, driving a friend’s car.
Then they don’t get the rewards of doing something they never considered doing.
My new mantra:
I want to challenged.
I want to be surprised.
I want to be uncomfortable.
I want to be forced to change my way of thinking, and my way of doing things.