OFJCC Personal Trainer Lyndsey Jones shares profound insight from her trip to Japan.
The last time I wrote I had just gotten back from my first solo trip to Peru, exhilarated by the perspective I gained. Even so, I couldn’t wait to embark on another journey. My goal in traveling is to experience other ways of life and to step out of my comfort zone. I decided the next great adventure was waiting for me in Japan.
Again, I landed and the excitement of being in another country sank in. But this time was different. I only spoke three words in Japanese, I looked different and my cultural norms were foreign to the people around me.
Through this, a realization of smallness came over me. I was this little speck of a person in these huge cities like Tokyo and Kyoto. There was so much life, so many people and so much going on around me. I saw a whole other world outside of my personal perspective. People all over the globe are going on about their days at all times, unaffected by my own world. People are experiencing their own issues and have their own routines.
At the same time, I discovered my own uniqueness as a person. There is a whole species of people out there, but only one me.
There is a teaching from the Hasidic leader Rabbi Simcha Bunem of Pershyscha. Rabbi Bunem carried two slips of paper, one in each pocket. On one he wrote: Bishvili nivra ha-olam—“for my sake the world was created.” On the other he wrote: V’anokhi afar v’efer”—“I am but dust and ashes.” To me, this shows each person’s uniqueness at the same time that we are one part of a larger whole.
It was a crazy feeling to know I’ve spent 24 years with myself but could learn so much about myself in one short week. I learned my strengths such as being able to navigate a totally foreign transportation system. I also was able to face some of my weaknesses, like being too shy to ask for help and experiencing a language barrier.
By realizing these attributes, I have learned my value as a person. You spend every second of your life with yourself but when you travel, you discover who you are. You go there to learn about another culture, but you come back learning about yourself. And the better you know yourself, the better you can love and take care of yourself to the fullest. Strong people know what they are made of and who they are.
In Peru, my perspective on happiness and how blessed I am emerged. In Japan, my perspective on myself was changed. I can only hope my next adventure serves another type of fulfilling purpose.